Friday, June 15, 2018

Little Town on the Prairie

I've been sporadically rereading my favorite Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder over the past several years, and just finished Little Town on the Prairie.

It's one of my favorites because Wilder does a such a fabulous job of documenting life on the many little towns that sprang up in the 19th century along railroad lines. I loved reading about how the town went from an idea to stores, homes, schoolhouse, church almost overnight. And Laura is fully engaged with the town--at first dreading the strangers who come to her prairie but then embracing them and the social life they make possible.

I paid close attention, this reading, to the things the Ingalls family ate--ground cherries and husk tomatoes (both of which are sort of like tomatillos), not to mention blackbird pie, tomatoes with cream, and lettuce with sugar.

I also paid attention to the flora and fauna Laura describes--meadowlarks (which I love during the summer in Colorado), redwing blackbirds, and thunder pumps (the colloquial name for the American bittern), and that awful needle grass that sews its way into Mary's shoes.

Reading LH books is always nostalgic for me--this time I remembered how much Laura's diligence at studying inspired me to work hard in school. Speaking of school, I've always wondered what Wilder's sister-in-law, Eliza Jane Wilder, thought of this particular book!

And then, of course, I will always love Garth Williams's warm and lovely illustrations. They are as much a part of the book as the text.

This book is part of the 2018 Back to the Classics challenge, in the children's category.


  1. Lovely review! I like the attention to detail of the flora and fauna. I did not pay attention to these things as a child. I only remember the drama: leeches and grasshoppers (or locust?) and blizzards!

    I was actually idly reading The Little House in the Big Woods a few weeks ago; just the first chapters. There was so much wonderful detail about food and storing things up for the winter. I should reread the whole thing. The beauty of children's books as an adult as they don't take very long to read. :)

  2. This is one of my favorite Little House books, too. :)

  3. This is one of my favorites too. I'm torn between this one and These Happy Golden Years. I just love the sense of excitement and freshness that happens as the town is being built.

  4. I have seen tomatoes with cream in other older books but have never seen a recipe for such a dish. As a fan of tomatoes (and cream, let's be honest), I've always wondered what it might taste like.

  5. This one is one of my favorites, too, along with These Happy Golden Years.

    I don't like to think about that black bird pie though.