Monday, June 23, 2008

Featured Book of the Month

Well, I totally missed June and we'll be gone to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for part of July, so this will be June/July's featured book of the month. Discussion came up at the Dean's Divas Yahoo Group about Nellie Owens--one of the three girls Laura Ingalls Wilder used to create the character of Nellie Oleson in On the Banks of Plum Creek. This led me to dig out the William Anderson booklet, The Walnut Grove Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Once again, Laura Ingalls Wilder historian William Anderson brings his readers right into Laura's world with a short booklet about one of the places Laura lived during her life. Actually, thanks to a map included in the front of this booklet, readers discover that the Ingalls family lived in Walnut Grove two times during their travels before settling in De Smet,SD.

The booklet begins with an introduction to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Almanzo, and their daughter Rose. On Page 11, we find out that Laura had no plans to write another book after These Happy Golden Years. Laura and Almanzo were enjoying a modest, but comfortable life on Rocky Ridge Farm, venturing out in their Chrysler when it suited them.

Then it moves on to Plum Creek and Walnut Grove when Laura lived there, talking about how the railroad caused an influx of homesteaders into Walnut Grove, including the Ingalls family. Anderson shares all about their lives in Walnut Grove, the churches and businesses, and some of the townsfolk. During their time in the area, the only son of Charles and Caroline Ingalls was born, Charles Frederick.

Anderson follows the Ingallses travels to Burr Oak, IA and back to Walnut Grove after the death of their son, mentions the new people who had moved to town, and the old acquaintances they caught up with upon their return. This is where the reader hears more about Nellie Owens and her family.

As in numerous other accounts, we hear about Pa's itchy feet and his desire to move west. The Ingalls family is stricken with another tragedy: Mary becomes ill and is left blind. So Pa moves to De Smet, SD. The final words from this section coming from Laura's own hand that were recorded in On the Banks of Plum Creek.

The last three sections of this booklet are dedicated to how Laura took her memories and turned them into the classic children's book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, how Walnut Grove pays tribute to Laura, and illustrator Garth Williams's visit to Walnut Grove and Plum Creek.

Following the format of his other booklet, The Story of the Ingalls, Anderson includes an Appendix with additional information for the reader.

The most interesting part of this booklet for me was being able to view versions of Laura's manuscripts (long-hand and typewritten). As with all of Anderson's books and booklets, The Walnut Grove Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder makes the perfect addition to your Laura Ingalls Wilder library.

Other booklets by William Anderson:

The Story of the Ingalls
The Story of the Wilders
Laura Wilder of Mansfield
A Wilder in the West (about Eliza Jane Wilder)
Laura's Rose: The Story of Rose Wilder Lane
The Horn Book's Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Iowa Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder

1 comment:

Lynne said...

I have several of William Anderson's books, but for some reason didn't purchase The Walnut Grove Story. After reading your post, I think I'm going to order it. I believe I ordered mine from the LIW Home Assoc. in Mansfield.