Monday, January 27, 2014

Feelings: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos


LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos 

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

            Almanzo watched Laura race to join her friends in the schoolyard.  She joined the other children who were starting a game of baseball.  Shouts and laughter drifted from the schoolyard over to the platform of the Feed and Seed where Almanzo worked.  The only time the kids seemed to have fun anymore was before Bart Slater arrived each morning.

            Bart teased and bullied the other students.  He disrupted class to the point where his sister and the town's school teacher, Eliza Jane, complained to Almanzo about the lack of order in the schoolhouse.  The school board, led by Mrs. Oleson and her greed, refused to interfere.  Wealthy Mr. Slater spent a great deal of money in town, she had been quick to point out.  With no options left, Eliza Jane decided she and her students would be better served by another teacher; someone more suited to dealing with the likes of Bartholomew Slater.  Almanzo and his sister would have to move on.

            Almanzo saw Beth, that's what he called her, saunter up to home plate. 

            “Bring me home,” her brother Albert shouted from second base. 

The children in the outfield backed up.  She swung the bat a couple of times and got ready for the pitch.  Crack!  The bat connected and the ball flew through the air.  Her teammates shouted when Albert touched home plate.  By the time the ball made it back to the pitcher, Laura stood on third base.  Almanzo smiled.  She was more athletic than a lot of the boys on her team.  No wonder they always picked her first. 

            She sure had pounded the dickens out of Nellie Oleson that day he had stumbled upon them fighting in the mud.  Almanzo chuckled.  Laura had an awful way of getting into mischief. 

            Out of all the people he had met in Walnut Grove, he would miss her the most.  Why was he so fond of the girl?  One of her pranks had left him gasping for water and another had left his girlfriend standing in nothing but her bloomers at the circus. 

            He knew she had a crush on him, but he couldn’t help but say hi to Laura each morning as she passed by the Feed and Seed on her way to school.  Her smile and those freckled cheeks made his day go smoother.  Almanzo had made a conscious effort since the circus not to encourage her feelings for him, but he connected with her more than the ladies he had dated since coming to Walnut Grove.  And he loved that feisty nature of hers. 

            Almanzo remembered the day of Laura’s teaching exam.  After her mud fight with Nellie, he had brought Laura back to his house to get cleaned up.  Dressed in his robe while her clothes soaked, the two chatted about her failing the test because of Nellie tricking her into believing the test would be mostly vocabulary.  Charles Ingalls had barged in on them and punched Almanzo twice before Laura explained everything to her pa.  Almanzo’s fatal error had been in telling Charles that Beth was just a little girl.  Laura's eyes had turned as red as her hair and she spat fire-filled words at her father and Almanzo before slamming the door behind her.

            The school bell rang and the children raced to get their books and pile inside.  Laura shot a glance over at Almanzo, but quickly turned away when she saw him looking in her direction.  He tried to figure out what kind of man would be a match for Beth’s temper.  Whoever married her sure would have his hands full.

            Mr. Slater’s wagon pulled into town.  Bart Slater sat triumphantly on the seat next to his father.  Bart smirked at Almanzo as they drove by.  Almanzo glared at him.  He hated feeling helpless.  Because of Bart he was leaving the town he had begun to call home.  And being forced to abandon his friendship with Beth gave him one more reason to dislike the boy and his father.

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Little House, Long Shadow Book Discussion - Chapters 6 and 7

Finally got back into reading this book and polished it off last week. The last two chapters are titled, "The Little House Books in Public" and "The Little House in American Politics."

In Chapter 6, Fellman discusses the persistent impact Wilder's books have on American culture. From libraries to postage stamps, to school field trips, and even road trips, Laura Ingalls Wilder is a part of our heritage. The books' publisher, originally known as Harper Brothers and now HarperCollins, put forth marketing efforts that build on a base of fans who generate their own Little House products and events.

Something I didn't recall was that after World War II, the U.S. State Department, at the request of General Douglas MacArthur, had The Long Winter translated into German and Japanese as part of the Americanization efforts in postwar rehabilitation.

This chapter also speaks about the tourism and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the numerous events around the country. References to Wilder and her books continue to come up in American life. One book I read last year was titled, Little Blog on the Prairie. Fellman also touches upon, however, voices questioning the meaning of the Little House books or how they apply to modern life and discusses again the topic of revisionist history.

Chapter 7 ended up being an excellent chapter. It focused a good deal on Rose Wilder Lane's politics, Ronald Reagan, libertarians, the New Deal, and Progressives. Fellman touches upon "mainstream" values and how they are associated with the Little House books. It was an evenly handled chapter, so I can't complain. The Afterword is a nice wrap up.

In the end, I'm glad I read the book. I didn't enjoy it as much in the beginning, but overall Fellman approaches her discussion of Wilder's impact on American culture and the Little House books with an analytic, scholarly mind that gives a fair shake to all sides.

You can read my previous thoughts on this book by chapter at:

Part Five –

I purchased this book from Amazon. This review/discussion contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

The Aftermath of Annabelle: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

The Aftermath of Annabelle

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

Almanzo still wasn't sure how to handle what Laura had done. He had asked Christie Norton to the circus, and she had not seemed pleased. It was obvious they didn't like each other, though Manly wasn't privy to what caused the problem between them. Almanzo ended up not caring for Christie either, but it didn't excuse Laura's actions.

He was working at the Feed and Seed when he saw her. Laura and her siblings were making their way into town for school. Best to talk to her right away. Nothing good could come out of delaying the inevitable. Almanzo hopped down from the platform and walked over to Laura and her siblings.

"Howdy, Beth," he said when he reached them.

"Hi, Manly."

"Can I talk to ya for a few minutes?"

"Well…I really should get to school."

"We have five minutes before the bell rings," said Albert. Laura glared at him.

"Hey Albert, do me a favor," Almanzo said. "Let my sister know Laura's with me and she'll be at school as soon as we're done."

Albert shrugged. "All right." He grabbed Carrie's hand and headed into the schoolyard.

Almanzo put his arm around Beth's shoulder and led her to the bench next to the Sweetheart Tree. How could he tell her he knew she was the mysterious clown who had kissed him? I guess I better just say it.

"Beth, I wanna talk to ya about what happened at the circus."

"Are you mad?" she asked without looking at him.

"No, just kind of confused. Why would ya do such a thing?"

"I don't know what came over me, Manly." He seriously doubted that was the case. Laura always had a purpose in mind.

Almanzo lifted her chin so she would be forced to look him in the eye. "I've never tried to encourage this crush of yours." He immediately saw how his words stung her. Tears swam in her eyes, but she would never cry in front of him. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

He spoke to her softly, like a father talking to a child. "You'll get over it when ya meet someone your own age.”  He reached up to tug one of her braids, but she turned her back to him.

The school bell rang and she began to stand. He gently grabbed her hand. “I'm not done yet.” Almanzo had to suppress a chuckle when Laura plopped down with a sigh and crossed her arms over her chest. “Christie was very embarrassed. I know the two of you don't get along, but it wasn’t very nice to humiliate her like that."

"You were laughing too." Laura's frown accused him of what he already knew he was guilty of.

"You're right. I wasn't havin’ as much fun with her as I thought I would. But it was wrong for me to laugh. I apologized the next day.” Almanzo raked his hand through his hair. “She told me there was a problem with her dress. Is that true?"

Laura hung her head. "I basted the skirt…but I didn't sew it to the bodice."

"So ya planned all this?" He had hoped he was wrong. Why would she do such a thing?

Laura stared at her feet for a few moments, then nodded.

"That was meaner than the trick you played on Nellie and me with the cinnamon chicken.” Almanzo clutched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “I hope you'll grow up and stop playing these childish pranks on people."

As soon as the words tumbled out of his mouth Laura stood and clenched her hands by her sides. Her face was almost as red as her hair. "I'm not a little girl anymore, Almanzo. I'm a woman. Soon I'll be a teacher."

He shook his head. "Beth, there's more to bein' a woman than age."

"You're just like Pa. He wants me to stay his Half-pint forever, and you want me to keep being your favorite girl. Neither one of you can see how much I've changed."

Almanzo thought about what she said. Maybe she had changed since they first met, but she was still far away from womanhood. Maybe he should try to make her feel better. "Beth, I know you've grown up some, but there's no reason you havta change overnight. It'll happen in its own time." Again he reached for one of her braids.

A furious Laura pulled away from him. "I'm a woman, Almanzo, and I'm going to make you see it. You just wait." She picked up her things and stomped out of town.

"Beth," he called after her. "Come back, Beth."

Almanzo stood and put his hands on his hips, staring after Laura until he lost sight of her. He strolled over to the Feed and Seed and grabbed the clipboard off the nail in the office. He glanced at his list of orders. Within moments, he threw the clipboard on the desk and paced the platform. Almanzo glanced over at the schoolhouse where Laura should be. What was it that didn't allow him to keep his distance from her? He looked forward to seeing her walk into town every morning on her way to school. She would smile and wave, making his day go smoother.

He chuckled when he remembered Laura sitting in the front room of his house in his robe after her fight with Nellie Oleson. Being feisty always got the better of her; and yet, it was the thing that made her so special. Laura never backed down from a confrontation and never shied away from speaking her mind. He witnessed that today.

Sitting down on the platform he let his legs dangle over the side. Visions of Laura's visit to the Wilder farm to return his robe a few weeks back flashed through his mind. When he had stared into Beth's face, he thought for an instant he felt an attraction to her. Almanzo wrote it off as a slight concussion from when they bonked heads reaching for the basket at the same time. Maybe Beth took that as a sign he was interested in her.

Almanzo walked over and started stacking sacks of grain for Mr. Carver's order. As much as he enjoyed Laura's company, he would have to work hard to keep a safe distance from her. He didn't want to encourage her feelings for him. It would be unfair to let her believe they would ever be anything more than friends. 

 Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Robe: LHOP Inspired Fanfiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

As you probably know, I write Little House on the Prairie inspired fanfiction stories. While I haven't written anything new in a while, I thought it would be a neat feature if I shared my stories here occasionally. In the beginning, I tried my best to write stories that blended the real life of Laura and Almanzo Wilder with the television show. More often than not, however, I tended to lean toward story lines that were based upon events from the NBC show. I created an entire series of stories that brought Almanzo and Laura from around the time they met through some of the Season 9 happenings. I haven't covered everything, but I have a substantial database of Laura and Almanzo stories, along with a few stories about other characters. I might make some changes as I add them to the site, since I have grown as a writer in the many years since I wrote these. Hope you enjoy them.

The Robe
LHOP inspired fanfiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

Author's note: I have used some of the original dialogue from the episodes Back to School Parts 1 and 2 for this story.

Laura trudged toward the Wilder homestead. It was Saturday so Almanzo and Miss Wilder weren't in town. On her arm, rested a basket with a robe inside — Almanzo's robe. It was the same robe she had worn home a few days earlier.

Nellie and her evil tricks had caused Laura to fail her teacher's examination. She had studied for weeks. Nellie had told her to pay careful attention to vocabulary. Much to Laura's dismay, when she sat down to take the test she discovered it was mostly history, just as Miss Wilder had told her it would be. After the test was over Laura raced out of the schoolhouse and out of town to have a good cry. She found herself alongside the watering hole by the Wilder farm.

When Laura lifted her head to wipe the tears from her cheeks, the corner of her eye caught Nellie strolling down the road into town. Nellie sauntered up to her. "Oh, Laura dear, how nice to see you. Almanzo and I were just having lunch together. How did the test go?" Nellie's smirk told Laura that Nellie was fully aware of how the test turned out.

"It was all history." Angry heat rose up Laura's cheeks. "Miss Wilder says they're always all history."

"Well, come to think of it, maybe there was more history on the test than I remembered," replied Nellie with an evil smile. "I hope you're not angry."

"Why should I be? It wasn't on purpose was it?"

Nellie raised her chin in triumph. "Of course not."

"Well, neither is this!" Laura pulled her rival into the muddy watering hole. Stronger and more athletic, Laura pushed Nellie's face into the mud, flinging piles of dripping mud on top of Nellie's head while the helpless girl screeched and tried to escape.

Laura vaguely heard the sound of wagon wheels along the road. She didn't care. Nothing and no one would stop her from giving Nellie exactly what she deserved. Almanzo pulled Laura off Nellie, the two of them falling onto the ground. She struggled, but his strong hands held her tight. Seething, all she could think of was pummeling Nellie.

"Let's go get ya cleaned off," Almanzo said to Laura, helping her into his wagon and leaving Nellie to fend for herself.

Laura peeked into the basket on her arm and felt the soft fabric of Almanzo's robe. She smiled and kept on walking. She was almost there.

Almanzo had offered his robe to her after the fight with Nellie so she could get cleaned off. He soaked her clothes in the wash basin outside. They sat and talked while Laura drank hot tea in front of the fireplace. It was a sweet, romantic moment…at least to her. Laura had her eyes on Almanzo from the first time she met him and accidentally called him "Manly" instead of "Mannie." He christened her Beth— a woman's name she had told her pa.

When they heard a knock Almanzo stood up and joked, "I don't think that's Nellie comin back."

He opened the door and Laura's furious pa punched him, sending Almanzo flying over a table. He hit him again and Almanzo toppled onto the staircase while Laura screamed for Pa to stop.

Pa demanded an explanation as to why his young daughter was in Wilder's robe. Laura told Pa what happened, saying Almanzo was only trying to be nice.

"I suppose he was being nice when he kissed you today," said Pa. Confused, Laura scrunched up her face. What is he talking about?  "Nellie told me all about it. She said that's why you attacked her."

"He kissed me on the forehead...for luck on my test."

Pa's face fell and his anger diminished. He glanced around the room and then at Almanzo, who was still slumped on the stairs protecting his face from further punishment.

"Yes, Sir," he said. "Ya didn't think that I…Beth's just a little girl."

Laura whipped her head around to face Almanzo. The romance and sweetness of the moment forever ruined, she screamed she was a woman before announcing she hated them and stomping out. After some words of wisdom from her ma, Laura and Pa reconciled, both of them blaming mean old Nellie for the entire misunderstanding.

A few days later Laura was finally ready to retrieve her clothes and return Almanzo's robe. She had slept with it under her pillow, dreaming Almanzo saw her as more than just a friend. She made her way through the front yard of the Wilder homestead. She pulled the robe out of the basket and smelled it one last time. She had refused to let Ma wash it. Dumping the robe back in, she took a deep breath and lifted her hand to knock on the front door.

"Howdy, Beth," Almanzo's voice called from behind her.

Laura turned. "Hi, Manly."

"Whatcha doin way out here on a Saturday?"

"Well…uh…I…uh…" She shoved the basket in Almanzo's direction. "I came to give you your robe back."

"That was awful nice of ya. Why don't you come inside. I think your clothes are in the downstairs bedroom."

Laura followed Almanzo into the house. There was no sign of his sister. "Where's Miss Wilder?" she asked toward the open bedroom door.

Almanzo came out with her red dress and apron. "She's visiting a neighbor."

Laura grabbed her clothes. "Thanks."

They chatted for a few moments, Laura becoming more anxious the longer they spoke. "I really am sorry about the other day," she said. "I didn't mean to lose my temper like that…and Pa feels awful about hitting you."

Almanzo rubbed his jaw and smiled. "I'll think twice before kissin ya good luck again, that's for sure."

"I should be getting home," she said. "I've got chores to do."

"Ya wanna ride? I gotta go into town anyway?"

"Are you sure?"

"Sure, I'm sure. Let me get my robe outta this basket and you can put your clothes in."

They both reached for the basket on the floor between them. "Ouch!" Laura exclaimed as their heads banged together, her clothes falling in pile on the floor. They stared at each other. Laura was sure they both felt a connection. She was almost afraid to breathe for fear the moment would end. His eyes were so blue; as deep as the ocean. She felt the urge to run her fingers through his hair. Her heart pumped inside her chest. Is his heart racing too? 

Almanzo shook his head and blinked several times. Why was he looking at her with such an odd expression? He stood up and handed her the basket. "We best be goin," he whispered.

"Yeah." She pulled his robe out of the basket and tossed it on the back of a chair. Tucking her clothes inside, she followed Almanzo out the door.

They drove to the Ingalls farm in silence. What had happened between them? She couldn't speak of it and he certainly didn't seem eager to either. Almanzo tugged the reins and stopped his team in front of the Ingallses' house. Laura jumped out and grabbed the basket before Almanzo could offer to help her.

"Thanks, Manly."

"Any time, Beth. "He shifted his weight on the seat.

Laura walked inside, never looking back. But she listened for the sound of Almanzo's departure. Moments passed, but no horse hooves or rattling of wheels in the front yard. What is he waiting for? Could she be right? Could he possibly have felt the same connection she did when they were so close she felt his breath on her face? She waited, then seconds later he chirruped to his horses and the noise got less and less until she couldn't hear the wagon anymore. Why had he paused before leaving? That question would keep her awake for hours tonight.

 Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Highway to Heaven Getting Edgy Reboot from A&E Studios and Halfire-Core Entertainment

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that A&E Studios and Halfire-Core Entertainment are working on an edgier reboot of Highway to Heaven. In this show that ran from 1984 - 1989 on NBC, Michael Landon played Jonathan Smith, an angel on probation that is sent back to earth to help people. Victor French, who worked with Landon on Little House on the Prairie, played Mark Gordon, an embittered ex-cop. After Jonathan helps to reform Mark, the former policeman becomes his right hand man. The two begin touring the country on assignments from "the Boss."

Mark Wahlberg signed on as the executive producer, and this reboot is being co-produced by Bob DeBitetto's newly launched A&E Studios and Noreen Halpern's Halfire-Core Entertainment. Also on board is Stephen Levinson's Leverage Entertainment. Wahlberg and Levinson (Boardwalk Empire), along with Halpern, Wirth and Wayne Lepoff of the Landon estate are all attached as executive producers.

You can read the entire article at

While I am excited about the thought of this reboot, I have to admit anytime I see edgier in the attached to a project, I'm concerned about the content. We'll have to wait and see how things pan out for this one.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Survey Results: These Happy Golden Years Favorite Little House Book

In 2013 we had a poll up that asked what your favorite Little House book is. Our readers selected These Happy Golden Years by a wide margin. Here are the top three choices:

  • These Happy Golden Years 52%
  • The Long Winter (my personal favorite) 25%
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek and Little Town on the Prairie 22%

Thanks for taking part in this poll. The survey's full results appear in the sidebar.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Have We Turned into Weather Wimps?

A recent article by Eleanor Barkhorn featured in The Atlantic says that a passage about Laura Ingalls trudging her way to school the morning after a snowstorm proves we've all gone soft where the weather is concerned.

Citing the cold morning journey from These Happy Golden Years for Laura and her students that includes breaking their own path to school and then entering a schoolhouse that was even colder than the outside, Barkhorn states that getting to school was very difficult without the technologies we have now, but that there was no question if school would be open. It was open. According to the author, that makes us a bunch of wimps. Do you agree?

You can read the article in its entirety at