As I said earlier this month, the Little House series are the books that come to mind when I think of childhood favorites. This book, the first in the series by Wilder, fictionalizes her life in the woods of Wisconsin in the 1870s. Living with her sisters, Mary and Carrie, along with her Ma and Pa, Laura grows up in an environment long gone from the American life by the time Wilder penned this novel.
Looking back now, though, I am surprised I did actually love this book. I grew up very anti-hunting and the book is dominated by Pa’s hunting exploits. The book is also very anti-wolf, anti-bear and it’s easy to see now why these animals were or came close to eradication in America. Some of the stories told in this book do not make sense knowing the habits of bears because unless the weather was more severe or bears did not hibernate in the 1870s, the bears should have been in hibernation during many of Pa’s and Laura’s stories.
Regardless, I still loved dipping back into this period of time and the life of the Ingalls and am glad we still have these books to provide these glimpses in time. I’ve heard many people refer to the Little House series as a sanitized version of history and while I understand their argument, I always appreciated that Wilder didn’t sanitize the fictional version of herself. She was still a young girl who sometimes did and said the wrong thing. I was not a perfect child and neither was she.
- Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods. New York: Scholastic, 1959. Originally published 1932. Print. 238 pgs. ISBN: 0590488171. Source: Purchased.