Monday, August 30, 2010

Little House in the Big Woods

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder  Illustrated by Garth Williams

I read aloud the full-color collector's edition of Little House in the Big Woods to my daughter Georgia, this summer.  While reading this book, I realized that the Big Woods was close to our house and after a little internet research we decided to embark on a Little House tour this summer.

I read this book when I was a little girl in the 1970's when the TV show became a big hit.  Of course, I didn't remember any of it and had great fun sharing this story with my daughter and discovering the beauty, joy and adventure in this book.  I am totally buying the first season of the TV show to share with my kids this winter.

Laura Ingalls Wilder and I have a lot in common.  First of all we share the same first name, both of us were born in 67 although 100 years apart.  We were both raised in the woods, and on a farm (I spent my summers on my grandpa's farm in Wisconsin).We both grew up and became teachers and writers.  She has a daughter named Rose and I have a aunt named Rose.  Well, I am sure you have figured out that I feel connected to Laura Ingalls Wilder and have since I was a child so it was with great pleasure that I reread this book with my daughter.

Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the Little House series.  It is a set of stories set in Pepin, Wisconsin and Laura's memories growing up there.  When I read aloud the chapter called Two Big Bears, my family happened to be renting a cabin at Tomahawk Boy Scout camp and a bear had wandered into camp and ate a goat.  There were many bear sightings that week.  Pa was walking home in the dark without his gun and came upon what he thought was a bear and Ma and Laura found a bear in the cow's pen and ran to the house.  My daughter was over-joyed how our day experience mirrored what happened to Laura in the book.

I think my favorite chapter was on The Sugar Snow.  This is the snow that comes late in the Spring and increases the length of time that the maple syrup flows.  She describes how they gathered, cooked and danced all during this time and of course the maple sugar sounded delicious.  There is a story about a black panther waiting for its prey and I didn't realize that black panthers lived this far north.  I guess I am glad they are no longer in my neighborhood.

I love to be outdoors and participate in the wonders of nature and Wilder's book brought back all the youthful innocence, hard work and simplicity of living life as a pioneer.  There are lots of days when I wish TV did not exist and at night we could talk and read by firelight. 

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