Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On the Banks of Plum Creek

We are really loving the Little House series, and On the Banks of Plum Creek was no exception!

The Story:  After Laura and her family had to leave their house in Kansas, they made their way North, to Minnesota.  There, they first moved into a dugout house, and eventually built a wonderful new house on the Minnesota prairie.  Laura and Mary began going to school, and they were finally close enough to a town to go to church and Sunday school.  They face hardships (like grasshopper swarms and seemingly endless blizzards), but it's all part of getting used to their new home.

The Good: As with all of the other books, this book teaches some fantastic history in  a fun way.  We really got some basis in what life was like for the settlers, and how different it was - Laura and Mary walked 2 1/2 miles by themselves to school, following only wagon ruts.  They are something like 8 and 10 years old (maybe younger) at the end of the book, and are left at home for a day to take care of Carrie.  The amount of responsibility they have is astounding and somber.  I used it as a learning experience more than once.  We did a lot of talking about the history and the way they lived.  We visited a couple historical places in our area to see some more about it.  This book (and the series) just makes learning about history effortless.  The people are easy to relate to, and it was exciting and fun to read.
Evalina and a friend at a one-room schoolhouse at a local museum.

The Bad:  There are some slightly scary parts.  There's a plague of grasshoppers which moves in and destroys everything.  The winter brings blizzard after blizzard after blizzard.  Then, of course, there's Nellie Olson.  She's such a bully, she serves a good example of how not to behave, that's for sure.  Not much bad, in my opinion.  Just good life lessons.

The Verdict:  This book brings the reader to the place we know from the television series.  The way that it brings early American history into focus is wonderful, because it doesn't lecture or beat anything into the reader.  It just makes it a great story that you want to know more about.  We highly recommend it.

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