Eighth grader Madeline Burk recommends. . .
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Travel back in time to a story that takes place on the wide open prairie in the late 1800’s, as Laura Ingalls Wilder tells the story of one of her first journeys in life. No one knows the tale better than the author herself, who is the 6 year old in this book! Published in 1935, this is a classic American children’s book that has been passed down for years. The Ingalls began their travels in the big woods of Wisconsin. Little House on the Prairie is the second book in a series of migration through America, but with no settlers ahead of them, how do they know what is to come on their trek?
As the Ingalls realize how loud and populated the big woods are becoming, Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, and Carrie make the hard decision of moving out of their cozy big woods, and into the open country. The problem is that if they do not leave the very next morning, they will not make it across the river before the thick ice cracks! They say a nice farewell to their family and loved ones in Wisconsin, so they can say hello to a hopeful new life as American pioneers.
After the crossing of the river, they thank their lucky stars that they made it, because the very next night… “It sounded like a shot, but it was sharper and longer than a shot. Again and again she heard it. Mary and Carrie were asleep, but Laura couldn’t sleep until Ma’s voice came softly through the dark. ‘Go to sleep, Laura,’ Ma said. ‘It is only the ice cracking.’” The ice had waited just long enough for them to get safely to the other side. For a while, they travel across the prairie, and finally venture into Kansas, where Pa finds a perfect spot for a homestead. In a nearby forest, Pa collects the supplies to put up a home, and uses his experience in woodworking to make a fine countryside farm! They become friends with their neighbors, and learn not to go near the Indians. The neighbors all work together to make prairie life easy, but to Ma, the Indians add a dangerous factor.
This book includes brave, helpful, and not so helpful characters that make for a good storyline. The author, Laura Ingalls Wilder uses her life to teach others who were not alive during the time of the pioneers settlement, and people who are curious of the effort it takes to complete such a journey. You would enjoy this book if you are interested in the past of American history. Also, there is some suspense during the time of the Indian passing, and the rush of the floods, fires, soldiers, screams, sickness, and wild beasts.
On the other hand, this is a very slow book that has much less action than most of today’s modern stories. It does have quite a lot of entertainment though, when you consider that it is non-fictional. Laura Ingalls Wilder has a lot of character and setting description that sometimes seems to drag on. A lot of the time, she is setting the scene of how life was, instead of telling the story of it. “They were all happy that night. The fire on the hearth was pleasant, for on the high prairie, even the summer nights were cool. The red-checked cloth was on the table, the little china woman glimmered on the mantelshelf, and the new floor was golden in the flickering firelight. Outside, the night was large and full of stars. Pa sat for a long time in the doorway and played the fiddle and sang to Mary and Ma and Laura in the house, and to the starry night outside.” Sometimes, all the description takes away from the excitement of the truly fascinating tale she has to tell us.
Overall, I would recommend this book because of its classical touch and real life themes. One theme I find in several places, is that there is always hope in a new adventure. This is displayed when the Ingalls move from their old home off into the prairie where they hope for a better life. Our parents and grandparents have been awing over these books for decades, and I think it is important to see what life in the old days was like. This book shows me that even the smallest parts of life now, were so amazing back then! With all of the pressure of prairie life, mainly including the unwelcome neighbors: The Indians, it may be hard for the Ingalls to stay safe. It is now up to you to read the series of books that teach us of our pioneering history: The Little House Series!