Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: From the Mouth of Ma by Robynne Elizabeth Miller

One chapter at a time, author Robynne Elizabeth Miller seeks to learn more about Caroline Quiner Ingalls--Ma from the Little House books.

In From the Mouth of Ma, Miller indicates that readers didn't get a chance to know Caroline Ingalls very well. Much of the close relationship Laura Ingalls Wilder had with her Pa (Charles) is written into the pages of her Little House series, but Ma remained a bit elusive.

Each chapter--except the first two, which are dedicated to outlining the purpose of the book and providing a bit of background on Caroline Quiner Ingalls--shares a little piece of Ma with readers: how practical and traditional Ma was in her daily life, her matter-of-fact opinions, how she valued honesty and forthrightness, what a devout Christian she was, how pragmatic she was while holding onto a dose of optimism, and more.

Miller discusses some things that bothered her about Ma from the Little House books--like her seeming lack of compassion for her children after the prairie fire that threatened their home in Kansas. She also dives into the many platitudes that Ma's character used in the books to help her--and readers-- understand more about who Ma was.

We end up with a well-rounded portrait of Ma with her unwavering love and devotion to her family and her desire to teach her children important and valuable lessons. Caroline Quiner Ingalls did not live an easy life out on the prairie, but as the author states, she navigated through it with grace and strength. For me, this book served to grow my admiration for a woman who embodied those characteristics and a pioneering spirit that helped create the country we know today.

Paperback: 84 pages
Publisher: Practical Pioneer Press; 1 edition (November 26, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692580654
ISBN-13: 978-0692580653

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Upcoming Release: The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

Available for the first time and collected in one volume, the letters of one of America’s most beloved authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder—a treasure trove that offers new and unexpected understanding of her life and work.

The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a vibrant, deeply personal portrait of this revered American author, illuminating her thoughts, travels, philosophies, writing career, and dealings with family, friends, and fans as never before.

This is a fresh look at the adult life of the author in her own words. Gathered from museums and archives and personal collections, the letters span over sixty years of Wilder’s life, from 1894–1956 and shed new light on Wilder’s day-to-day life. Here we see her as a businesswoman and author—including her beloved Little House books, her legendary editor, Ursula Nordstrom, and her readers—as a wife, and as a friend. In her letters, Wilder shares her philosophies, political opinions, and reminiscences of life as a frontier child. Also included are letters to her daughter, writer Rose Wilder Lane, who filled a silent role as editor and collaborator while the famous Little House books were being written.

Wilder biographer William Anderson collected and researched references throughout these letters and the result is an invaluable historical collection, tracing Wilder’s life through the final days of covered wagon travel, her life as a farm woman, a country journalist, Depression-era author, and years of fame as the writer of the Little House books. This collection is a sequel to her beloved books, and a snapshot into twentieth-century living.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Birthday, Almanzo!

Today Almanzo Wilder would be 159 years old. Just like we did for Laura's birthday, I would like to dedicate this post to many favorite episodes from Season Six through the end of the Little House on the Prairie television series to celebrate this occasion.

Season Six

This is a tough one because Almanzo's character is introduced in Season Six and has a lot of great storylines. While "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not," is my overall favorite, there are so many others that are close seconds:

  • "Back to School" because this is where Laura falls head over heels in love with Almanzo and accidentally calls him "Manly." He is also sweet to Laura when she fails her teaching exam. 
  • "The Werewolf of Walnut Grove because we see him acting as a protective brother to Eliza Jane and admits to his young friend, Laura, how much he will miss her when they leave Walnut Grove. 
  • "Wilder and Wilder" because we see what a responsible, capable young man he is and he finally starts to notice Laura is maturing. 
  • "Sweet Sixteen" because this is where Laura and Almanzo's courtship begins; he finally sees her as someone more than a "young friend" and he even makes an idiot out of himself when he fears Chad Brewster is making advances toward her.
Season Seven

"Laura Ingalls Wilder" is a definite favorite, probably for most fans. Almanzo loses his crop to a drought and can no longer build his house of dreams for Laura. His stubborn side rears its ugly head when she wishes to take a job in Radner to help him get back on his feet. Their engagement is broken off more than once, but eventually the two reconcile and they marry at the blind school in Sleepy Eye.

Season Eight

"Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow" is an important Almanzo episode. It finds him devastated with the loss of his crop, battling diphtheria, suffering a stroke, and retreating into a deep depression. The poor guy can't even enjoy the birth of his first child, because he's stuck in a wheelchair. It isn't until Laura finally gives up that he realizes he must fight to gain back his life and begin making plans for the future.

Season Nine

While my favorite episode of Season Nine is "A Child With No Name," my favorite Almanzo episode is "Welcome to Olesonville." Harriet Oleson finds a bearer's bond in Lars Hanson's old house (Yes, I know it burned down in an earlier season, but just go with it.) and uses her power to try to get Nels Oleson elected mayor of Walnut Grove. Some people encourage Almanzo to run, but it isn't until Harriet insults him that he decides to do it.

What are some of your favorite Almanzo episodes? 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Happy Birthday, Laura!

Everyone's favorite pioneer girl is celebrating her 149th birthday today. Wow! How amazing is it that someone from the past has touched so many lives.

While I often share excerpts from the Little House books to celebrate, today I want to share my favorite Little House on the Prairie episodes from each season, because if Laura had never written such wonderful books, this now classic television show would never have been produced and I would never have met so many wonderful people.

Season 1 - "Christmas at Plum Creek" 

As Christmas approaches, members of the Ingalls family find themselves short on cash but full of secrets as they work hard to make the holiday special for each other.

Season 2 - "A Matter of Faith"

Caroline's decision to stay home alone while Charles takes the girls on a trip nearly proves fatal when a scratch on her leg becomes infected.

Season 3 - "Little Girl Lost"

Carrie falls down a mine shaft while tagging along with her sisters during a school assignment.

Season 4  - "Here Come the Brides"

Love is in the air when Nellie Oleson falls for pig farmer Luke Simms and Miss Beadle finds herself attracted to the boy's father.

Season 5 - "There's No Place Like Home"

After trying to live in the city of Winoka, the Ingallses, the Garveys, and the Olesons head home to Walnut Grove to rebuild the town.

Season 6 - "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not"

When Charles tells Almanzo he and Laura must wait until she turns 18 to marry, Almanzo forces Laura to decide between him and her father.

Season 7 - "Laura Ingalls Wilder"

When Almanzo's crop is destroyed by drought, he loses the land he was going to build a house on for Laura. Their wedding is postponed and their fighting threatens to end their engagement.

Season 8 - "A Christmas They Never Forgot"

The Ingalls family and Hester Sue celebrate Christmas together by sharing stories of Christmases past.

Also Season 8 - "Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow"

Pregnant with her first child, Laura is distraught when Manly turns ill and she finds out they are deeply in debt. Things go from bad to worse when a stroke paralyzes Almanzo. His sister's visit to Walnut Grove only makes matters worse.

Season 9 - "A Child with No Name" 

Almanzo and Laura's son dies and she blames Doc Baker, which leads to the entire town turning against him.

What are some of your LHOP favorites?