Thursday, November 4, 2010

Little Town on the Prairie

After the rough time the Ingalls family had in The Long Winter, it was nice to read Little Town on the Prairie, about a calmer time in their lives.

The Story:  After surviving the horrible, blizzard filled winter, life resumes for the Ingalls family in De Smet, Dakota Territory.  In spring, Laura got her first job, and she was able to earn some money to help send Mary to the special college for the blind at long last.  They got the homestead a little more settled, and they got some crops from it (though they had to battle blackbirds and gophers...)  Pa managed to get a hold of a kitten (which were hard to come by out west) to help with their pest problem, after a mouse crawled into bed in the middle of the night and chewed off a hunk of Pa's hair to use in it's nest!  For the winter, they moved back into town, and Carrie and Laura went back to school.  Laura worked towards studying as hard as she could, in order to earn her teacher's certificate once she turned 16, but there were distractions to her studies.  Through the mild winter (welcome after the terrible previous one), the town set up Literaries - meetings where they had entertainments and competitions, to help beat the doldrums.  And all the time, Laura had to work towards her ultimate goal of earning her certificate so that she could earn money and help keep Mary in college.

The Good:  It was a breath of fresh air after the tough times of the previous winter.  Laura and the family were settling in nicely to life in their new town.  The descriptions of everyday life were compelling and thorough.  When Pa went after the blackbirds that had been eating their corn, it was something else!  I can't even imagine that many blackbirds.  Laura is growing up and getting more responsibilities.  She has good friends at school (and her old rival, Nellie Oleson, has moved to De Smet.  That's always fun reading).  It's amazing reading about things that they learned in school - makes you feel humbled at the thought.  Almanzo Wilder started taking an interest in Laura by the end of the book... and we all know how that turned out...

The Bad:  The thread of the story wasn't as strong as in previous books.  It seemed a much longer read than the others, though it was about the same length or shorter.  It was a little sad to know that Laura is going to have to teach school, even though it wasn't really what she wants to do with her life.  But, that's just how it was.

The Verdict:  A lovely book exploring the everyday life of the time, without the strife of the long, terrible winter.  It connected with Evalina, and she began to want to play Laura and Carrie every day when we walked to school.  I am continually amazed by her comprehension.  It makes me happy to know that she understands, and it verifies that she is the perfect age to be reading these books with.  I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

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