Saturday, May 22, 2010

Little House in the Big Woods

Some of Evalina's good friends got her the first two books in the Little House series for her birthday.  We just finished the first one - Little House in the Big Woods. I watched the Little House on the Prairie show as a child, but never got around to reading the books, so I'm enjoying this quite a lot as well!

The Story: Laura Ingalls is the young daughter of a pioneer family. She lives with her parents, her older sister Mary, and her baby sister Carrie, in a (you guessed it) little house in the big woods in Wisconsin.  She had never been to a town.  She has no concept of neighbors like we do.  The story of this book lays some great historical basis about what everyday family life was like, how they worked to make and catch their food, and more.

The Good:  The detail is fantastic. I want to make butter and cheese and Johnycakes and tap trees and make maple syrup and maple sugar.  Laura and her family are written vibrantly (not surprising, since they were real people), and I think it got Evalina more interested in history. Really thinking about what it was like before there were cars and electricity and 24-hour grocery stores was a very positive thing.  We take so much for granted.

The Bad:  Some of the things portrayed are a little raw for a sensitive modern kid.  Still, it's good for her to know about them.  She was alarmed by all the hunting (even though her daddy hunts), and some other things led us to some very frank discussions.  The fact that Pa smoked a pipe was a problem for her, but I explained that they had no idea that tobacco was bad for you, so many people smoked.  Good history lessons all around, so these things are not really "bad."

The Verdict: Wonderful, and we can't wait to read the next one!  I truly enjoyed it, and want to try some of the "pioneer" recipes and crafts.  When we get to the Little House on the Prairie, I'm looking forward to sharing the television series with Evalina.  The book is 238 pages long and recommended for ages 8-12, and I would agree with that. Evalina's 7, but a very advanced reader, so it was no trouble for her.  (We did read it together - she read a couple paragraphs per page)  I would recommend this series to anyone.  As you can see with our reading history, most of what we have read is fantastical, and I am thrilled to be reading something more historical, to get some enthusiasm for that into her.  Next!

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