Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Little House on Audio

I'm in the midst of listening to all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and what did I see? But an author interview with Laura over at the Kiddosphere!

Very amusing, with a lot of great links.

Other kidlit bloggers taking a look see at LIW: Chicken Spaghetti; Blog From the Windowsill.

I've listened to the first three books (Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, By the Banks of Plum Creek) and my general reactions as an adult reading these books:

-- the Ingalls were a lot poorer than I remembered.

-- there seems to be a lot of emphasis on things being clean; Ma keeping a clean house, the girls dusting & sweeping daily. Also, it's said so many times that the attic the girls slept in was nice, clean, big, bright -- it's like LIW is anticipating criticisms and counters them with her glowing descriptions.

-- LIW emphasizes the times when everyone ate their fill; as a grown up, I realize that must mean there were times when they did not. Seriously, I don't think a green vegetable is eaten in either of the later two books.

-- Knowing the "real" story from various books, I'm impressed at how LIW created true works of fiction. (As a matter of fact, while I do plan to read the other "Little House" books, I'm right now most interested in the "real" story.)

-- What a warm and loving family! Hugs, kisses, a lot of affection.

-- Laura isn't a perfect kid. Oh, yeah, there's a lot about the girls having to learn to obey their parents and stuff like that; but Laura's revenge on Nellie Olsen? Not only is it priceless and well plotted -- Laura doesn't get into any trouble at all. And when Laura disobeys the father based on a technicality that would make the girl in 17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore proud (we weren't sliding down the haystack, we were rolling down), all Pa can do is laugh (again, as a grown up I understand the parent turned away, the shaking shoulders; I'm not sure I got this as a kid.) And Laura's anger at Mary for being the "good one" is often internal -- so not punished.

-- I guess the TV show does affect my memory; but there was a lot less Nellie Olsen in the last book than I remembered.

-- Ma was one strong woman. Yes, Pa kept wanting to move; but she supported him, and wow, when she needed to get things done they got done.

I'll post more when I've finished with the entire sequence.

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder (First chapter of the book by John E Miller).
This Little House of Mine (Essay by Rachel F. Seidman about fiction, fact and story)


Anonymous said...

Yeah! These books were my catalyst for learning how to read. My older sister read aloud the first 50 pages of book one -- but soon got impatient and finished the book on her own. She then read to me the first 50 pages of book two, etc. I was so desparate to know what happened, I actively worked on my word skills. Love love love LIW. And this childhood passion has led me to an adulthood fascination with Willa Cather's novels.

Jennifer Schultz said...

Good morning, Liz! Thank you for linking to the Kiddosphere.

I found your comment about realizing the poverty very interesting. I'm currently reading my way through Beverly Cleary's books in honor of her upcoming birthday, and I'm noticing the hardships of the Huggins and the Quimbys in ways that I didn't notice when I read them as a child.

Beth said...

Have you read THE GHOST IN THE LITTLE HOUSE by William V. Holtz? It's a fascinating biography of Rose Wilder Lane, and posits (with some proof) that Rose contributed so much to the Little House books that she could be considered the real author.

Rose was one of the most prominent of the Libertarians when that party first started, and was great friends with Ayn Rand. Holtz talks about how Rose's personal philosophies colored and changed some incidents in the Little House books.

Really interesting.

Anonymous said...

Are you listening to the readings by Cherry Jones? I've known people who hate them, but I could seriously listen to Cherry Jones read almost anything forever. I love her voice, and I love the bemused sort of way she reads those particular stories.

Lady S. said...

Interesting comments, Liz. Concerning the mentions of their eating their fill: I read somewhere (possibly a biog. of LIW, but read so long ago, from some library who knows where, I've NO idea who the author was) that if you think of Farmer Boy, you can see the obsession with food of someone who was probably always at least slightly malnourished growing up. The descriptions of pies and ice cream are almost enough to give you a coronary just reading!

Hadn't thought about the green vegetables, but it's true. I can remember peas and lettuce from one meal, in one book. And lots of meals of just corn-cake fried in a bit of fat, in the early Prairie ones...