Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Little House

For Book Club this month, I read Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It was fun to revisit a childhood favorite.  And it's still a favorite!  I got sucked right back in to the world of 1870s Wisconsin frontier territory, and re-read the whole book in one evening.

There are so many things I love about the Little House series of books!  This book in particular, the first in the series of books that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote as an adult reminiscing on her life, is wonderful for it's coziness and simple charm.  Laura describes her life as a 5 year old child, which is full of some things we might not associate with a child.  She devotes a whole chapter to her father's gun, describing how the bullets are made and the gun barrel cleaned.  She speaks frequently of bears and panthers, but also corn cob dolls and maple sugar treats.  There is no huge story arc, a la Harry Potter.  No sensationalism or controversy here.  Just a joy in retelling the simple day-to-day life of Laura's family.

Part of the fun, too, are the pencil illustrations by Garth Williams, as above.  My favorite one I couldn't find online to copy, but it also has a bear in it.  Laura's father has gone out to check his traps in the winter (he trapped animals for their fur) and comes across a bear that has just killed a pig.  He shoots the bear and "brings home the bacon."  Anyway, the illustrations shows him approaching the bear, who is standing up on his hind legs and holding the pig in his arms, like a doll.  I don't know why I love it, I just do.  It makes me laugh.

It must sound awful for me, in this day and age, to be laughing about a man shooting a bear that has killed a pig, but for the Ingalls family, it was their way of life.  They had to survive the long cold winter days and nights by fighting with the wildness of the world around them sometimes.  I can only marvel at what they went through in that little Wisconsin cabin!  All I need to survive the winter is an electric blanket, and a good book.

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