Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How the Little House Books Teach Selflessness

During the month of March, The Book Connection--my book blog--is participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). All you have to do during NaBloPoMo is blog every day for the entire month. Each month they give you a special theme to work around, which helps to inspire blogging ideas. This month's theme is "Giving Up" and this post flows in nicely with that theme. Because it has a Little House tie-in, I have posted it here. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this post.

Some of my Little House friends are rereading the Little House books in order. These beloved children's stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder have been my favorites for years--though I admit they did not interest me as much when I was a child as they do now.

We are currently reading and discussing On the Banks of Plum Creek, the fourth in the series. The most recent dicussion centers around Chapter 12 - Christmas Horses. In this chapter, Ma talks to Laura and Mary about what Pa wants for Christmas - a set of horses to help him harrow and harvest the wheat. The girls want things too, but horses aren't on their lists.

But after talking with Ma about Santa Claus and being unselfish, the girls soberly agree that they will ask Santa for horses. And in the next chapter they are pleasantly surprised to find that while Santa Claus did bring horses, he also managed to bring a few treats for Laura, Mary, and their baby sister Carrie; so the girls have a wonderful Christmas after all.

It is this type of sacrifice for the good of the family that endears the Little House books to generations of fans. The way in which the Ingalls family always ends up pulling together and helping one another is inspiring and makes you want to have that type of family too.

When the classic televison series Little House on the Prairie aired in the 70's and early 80's, it is exactly that pull together and help each other, our love and faith will get us through type of mentality from the books that Michael Landon and the crew captured week after week. While over time the storylines were based less and less on the material from the books, the essence and tone of the television series never changed. This is what I fondly remember about watching the show on the one television our family owned.

My children live a life much better than the one I lived. Growing up we had few material possessions and our family is what would now be called dysfunctional, at best. There are few things that my children want for, though it seems their list increases by the day, and I often wonder if, as parents, we have been successful in teaching them to think of others. And then I ponder the meaning of the sacrifice made by two young girls living on the banks of Plum Creek, and hope that our family could pull together in such a crisis, where our livelihood and our future might depend on it.

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder might have taken place during the 1800's, but for those of us living now, they not only entertain, they teach the values that will make our world a better place.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Planning a Vacation to the Little House Sites...

...then you have to stop by Beyond Little House, a new blog that among others things gives you excellent information on how to plan your Little House Site tour.

The contributors to this blog are listed as: Rebecca Brammer, who runs the Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl site; Sandra Hume, editor of the Homesteader newsletter; Amy Mattson Lauters, Ph.D., author of The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane and Sarah S. Uthoff, a widely respected authority on Laura Ingalls Wilder based in Iowa.

Beyond Little House certainly sounds like one blog all Laura Ingalls Wilder fans should be checking in with regularly.

Missouri Honors Writers, Artists with Tour

According to News-Leader.com out of Springfield, MO, the Writers Hall of Fame--didn't know there was such a thing--will be honoring 15 of Missouri’s most successful and well-known children’s authors, artists, playwrights and poets with a traveling tour in June.

The tour begins in St. Louis and moves to Kansas City and southwest Missouri before returning to St. Louis eight days later. Among one of the many places that attendees will visit is the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum in Mansfield.

You can read more about this event here.

A Very Different Little House on the Prairie Blog

I've tossed around discussing this topic for at least a month because I wasn't sure of the reaction I would get, but there are moments when I find myself reading this blog that keeps popping up in my Google Alerts.

In January, Mike McComb started a blog titled WTF Little House on the Prairie?--which not surprisingly takes a very critical, mostly humorous, and sometimes vulgar look at Little House episodes.

As a writer I firmly believe in freedom of speech, though there are many things out there that I believe are better not said; but what I find interesting about McComb is that he is waiting to start his Masters Program in Television, Radio and Film at Syracuse University. So, McComb has an interest in this media, which makes me curious over how he views things--even if I don't agree with him.

Here is one of McComb's milder comments about the episode Goodbye, Mrs. Wilder. This is the first morning after the new dress code has been installed by Mrs. Oleson, who is now the teacher:

"The next day at school all the kids are in uniforms: the boys looking like bored waiters at the Olive Garden and the girls ready to audition for Pirates of Penzance."

Now, I have to admit, that makes me chuckle.

There are other not so nice comments--which I will spare you from--but McComb obviously has some knowledge of Little House in order to write such detailed impressions of these episodes. And, at least in my mind, we are talking television, not real life. As most Little House fans are aware, there has been an ongoing controversy over how much Michael Landon and his staff departed from the content of the books, and if anything, McComb is poking fun at the television creation, not Laura's legacy.

Feel free to throw virtual tomatoes my way for drawing attention to McComb's blog. I can't help but browse through it every once in a while to read his critique of my all-time favorite show.

The Little House on the Prairie Musical on Tour in 2009-2010

The New York Times reports that the Little House on the Prairie Musical, starring Melissa Gilbert (who played Laura on the Little House television series) as Ma, will run for five weeks at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. A tour of performances in more than 30 cities is planned through 2010.

* Photo credit goes to the Little House on the Prairie Musical website.

And the Survey Says...

Our last survey asked voters if they thought that Little House on the Prairie would be as popular if it aired today versus in the 1970's. An overwhleming 31% said "Definitely!", while "Maybe" and "Probably Not" were tied at 12%.

Thanks goes out to eveyrone who voted. Look for another survey coming soon!