Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Series: Little House #2
Publication: Harper Collins (first published 1935), Hardcover, 335pg
Genres: Children's, Fiction, Historical Fiction
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A family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, build a well, and fight a fire. (from Goodreads)
This one wasn’t QUITE as good as Little House in the Big Woods, despite it being the better-known title. I think because there’s less food descriptions? Also the family is terrorized multiple times by Native Americans stealing their food and stinking up the house with skunk skins (wtf?) so overall it’s less happy-go-lucky than the previous book. I DID learn some interesting stuff about building log cabins, though! Self-sufficiency always interests me– like, I don’t think I’d personally enjoy living on a farm, but I DO have daydreams about owning a chicken and maybe an herb garden.
ANYWAY, the whole racism thing is very interesting. Like, a lot of the characters are racist against the Native Americans– they have no problem taking their land, Native Americans should move so the white people can use the land “correctly,” Native Americans smell and steal stuff, etc.– but considering the time (and place) that’s not overly surprising. Laura Ingalls Wilder stuck some non-racist elements/characters in there, too, and I guess it kinda balances it out?
For example, little Laura asks her parents why they’re moving into Indian Country if they hate Indians so much. Good question! Also, later on there’s a heartbreaking scene of a bunch of Native Americans leaving their homes, and everyone is very sober and sorry about it. It’s mitigated by Laura’s selfish desire for an Indian baby, though, almost like she wanted a dog or something. Ma shoots her down, of course, but it’s still a weird moment.1
Another good thing: a black doctor saves the entire family from malaria! And, though the book is filled with people thinking/saying/etc. racist thoughts, I don’t think those people are ever presented in a way that says they’re RIGHT. Know what I mean?2
Anyway, the family leaves at the end to move somewhere else so I was left feeling very weirded out and adrift.3 Also, I can’t get over the fact that they left behind the uber-expensive glass windows; surely they could have taken them with them? Ugh.
Read: May 23, 2013
I feel like I need to read a behind-the-scenes thing, or some scholarly articles about the history of this series and its relation to Real Life. I need more background info! Anyone have any recommendations?