Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vote in Our New Survey

Take a minute while you're browsing around to vote in our new survey. We ask, "What other cast member's autobiography are you interested in?"

There are several choices and I left the last option for someone who isn't listed. Since these are autobiographies, the person would need to be living. I might also run one on biographies, which would allow us to include deceased members of the cast.

This Week on Hallmark Channel

For anyone who isn't aware of it, though Hallmark Channel had briefly dropped Little House on the Prairie from its lineup, this channel is now running three episodes of the show back-to-back from 2 to 5 PM Eastern during the week, and from 6 to 8 AM Eastern on Saturday. Even knowing what a great show LHOP is, I'm amazed that it is so popular it can still be seen so many times during the week.

Some of my favorite episodes from the earlier seasons are on this week too:

Whisper County; I Remember, I Remember; A Most Precious Gift; I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away; The Wedding, and on Saturday, Stone Soup. Other episodes that will air this week can be found on Hallmark's website.

Fans of the show probably remember these, but here is a brief synopsis of each:

Whisper County: Mary leaves home for her first teaching job, but education is not highly regarded by the community, especially Miss Peale, with whom Mary has more than a few run-ins.

I Remember, I Remember: While waiting for Charles to come home, Caroline shares memories with her girls of how she met a young Charles Ingalls (portrayed by Matthew Labyorteaux).

A Most Precious Gift: Caroline worries that the baby she is carrying won't be the son she believes Charles desperately wants.

I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away: In the first part of this two-part episode, Mary has a new beau, named Seth and Walnut Grove is struggling to survive in hard economic times. When Mary's eye sight worsens, a trip to the doctor brings devastating news: she's going blind.

In the second part of this episode, Mary is sent to a school for the blind in Iowa. Feeling resentful and alone, her new teacher Adam Kendall, doesn't leave her much time to feel sorry for herself. While Mary is forced to learn to live in a world of sighted people, conditions in Walnut Grove worsen, and some of the townsfolk consider relocating. (Last episode featuring Mrs. Eva Beadle Simms.)

The Wedding: Adam finally works up the courage to ask Mary to be his wife. Caroline and Charles make the trip to Winoka for the ceremony, where Adam and Mary are working as teachers at a blind school. But when Caroline begins talking about how difficult it was to manage children, Mary worries that two blind people can't take care of a sighted baby and calls off the wedding. While on a picnic with children from the blind school, a sand storm kicks up, and one of the students, Susan Goodspeed, is lost, and Adam and Mary must search for her alone. (One of Linwood Boomer's finest performances, in my humble opinion.)

Stone Soup: This is one of my favorite episodes from Season 8. During a drought Almanzo and Charles decide to take a job hauling freight to Arizona, while a pregnant Laura is left home to tend to the Wilder's newly planted apple orchard. The drought only worsens, and Laura is exhausted trying to take care of the farm and teach school. When she suffers heatstroke, Caroline fills in at the school and shares a story with the children, that motivates Willie Oleson and his classmates to help others. (A fabulous episode to see how Willie has grown into a young man.)

All these episodes have the elements of a good story: strong plot, lots of conflict, and a resolution by the end. These are all classic Little House on the Prairie episodes that remind you why you fell in love with the series in the first place, and why we keep on watching.

And the Survey Says...

It was no big surprise that most of those who voted in our recent survey said they were planning on buying Alison Arngrim's and Melissa Sue Anderson's books when they come out this spring. An equal amount (7%) said either they were not planning on buying them or that they were buying Melissa's book. It looks like none of our readers plans to buy only Alison's book.

I go back to my earlier post about Almanzo's birthday and how we're not quite sure what the future will bring for fans of Laura. It certainly seems like a good time to be a Little House on the Prairie fan, with three of the major stars from the series coming out with books over the past year.

We wish these ladies well. Maybe Dean will start writing down his story soon.

A diva can hope, can't she?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Almanzo!

It's hard to believe that February 13, 2010 marks the 153rd birthday of Almanzo James Wilder, the young boy whose youth was immortalized by his wife, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in Farmer Boy.

Growing up we read about Almanzo's huge appetite, his love of farming, and his desire to raise his own Morgan horses. We read further on in the Little House series and discovered Almanzo, now as a young man, running a store in town, where he meets his future wife. We learn how that brave young man risked his life to keep the people of De Smet from starving during the Hard Winter. Then we follow Laura and Almanzo's courtship and their first few years of marriage.

Years later, these beloved books would become a television series. Starting with Season 6 of Little House on the Prairie, actor Dean Butler would bring Almanzo James Wilder to life for fans of Laura's books. Through four seasons and three television movies, Dean's portrayal of Almanzo would capture the shy, quiet man who loved farming and horses.

Nearly twenty years later, Walt Goggins portrayed Almanzo Wilder in the two Beyond the Prairie movies. While his portrayal of Almanzo was different from Dean's, I always felt Goggins was able to capture the essence of the Almanzo I had learned so much about over the years.

Who knows what else the future will hold for Laura's fans. Dean Butler has already produced some of the bonus material included with the Little House on the Prairie DVDs. Butler's Legacy Documentaries brand came out with Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, which is available through the Wilder Homestead, and Butler is working on a documentary about the legendary children's author now.

As we celebrate Almanzo's birthday, we also are thankful for the many people who continue to support Laura's legacy, and hope that the love for Laura's books and the many productions based upon them continues to grow for generations to come!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Laura!

In Chapter 20 of Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder shares the time she attended a birthday party for Ben Woodworth. It seems Laura didn't like much about her appearance. She wanted to be "tall and willowy, like Nellie Oleson". Her eyes were too far apart and they didn't sparkle. Though her hair was think and long, it wasn't golden like her sister Mary's.

Laura and her friend, Mary Power, went to the party together. They had: oyster soup with tiny oyster crackers, potato patties, codfish balls, and biscuits. They drank coffee and there was cake for dessert. The whole oranges that were cut to look like flowers were eaten with the cake. Then they played games and Laura told her Pa and Ma all about it.

Laura had so much fun that she had trouble concentrating in school. We learn in the next chapter that Laura will turn sixteen in ten months.

When you read chapters like this, you realize not everything has changed for teenage girls. Laura was not happy with how she looked, which is a problem that plagues many girls today. She was nervous about going to the party, but she had fun, and then school no longer held as much of her attention.

We see the young woman that Laura is quickly becoming. Laura meets Almanzo for the first time, though she knew who he was. They exchange name cards and soon Almanzo is escorting her home in the evenings.

Today, we honor the legacy that Laura Ingalls Wilder left us. Her books have touched hearts for generations and show no signs of slowing down. Television series and TV movies have been based upon those books that Laura wrote at the urging of her daughter Rose. Those same books are used by students who are studying the pioneering era, and there are still young girls who dress up like Laura on Halloween.

On her 143rd birthday, we offer our thanks that one little girl growing up on the prairie, many years later, put pen to paper and shared her life with us. With the popularity of the Little House on the Prairie Musical, and Dean Butler and Legacy Documentaries working on Laura Ingalls Wilder related projects, Laura's legacy will continue to play a role in the lives of many families. May we always remember Laura Ingalls Wilder!

Happy Birthday Laura!