The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

I believe every fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, whether that person is a fan of the books, the TV shows and movies, or both, has a Laura story: the moment when she discovered Laura, connected with her, and how it changed her life. Wendy McClure shares her story with readers in The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.

A senior editor for Albert Whitman & Company, McClure brings the reader through her journey as an adult of rediscovering these beloved classics from her childhood.

A year after the death of her mother, McClure’s eye catches the yellow spine of Little House in the Big Woods in her apartment. She picks the book off the shelf and begins reading. Her boyfriend, Chris, brings home a new set of the Little House books and together they read, explore “Laura World,” and embark on a trip by car to visit the many Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites across America.

The Wilder Life is both touching and irreverent. The author’s lifelong obsession leads her on this terrific journey into a world that is familiar, yet, altogether new. From tracking down a “crock and dash” churn so she can make butter like Caroline Ingalls, to wading in Plum Creek; from purchasing numerous sunbonnets, to meeting girls competing in the Laura-Nellie Look Alike Contest at the Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, MN; and from a surprise during her trip to De Smet, SD, to the meaning found in a visit to the Wilder farm in New York, readers will enjoy following McClure’s travels.

This is the kind of book that you have to consider as a whole. There are moments when it feels like McClure is poking fun at the whole “bonnethead” obsession and some of the people she meets along the way. She occasionally uses words that were not made for family TV back in the 70’s. She also has her own vision of what faith meant to the Ingalls family versus how it was portrayed on television in Little House on the Prairie and the 2005 mini-series of the same name.

But when you take those moments and blend them into the entire narrative, you come up with a funny, engaging, and moving look into the impact Wilder’s books had on McClure’s life, and how Wilder’s legacy continues to touch the lives of people everywhere. I am thrilled to have The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure as part of my Laura Ingalls Wilder book collection.

Title:  The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie
Author:  Wendy McClure
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (April 14, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1594487804
ISBN-13: 978-1594487804
SRP:  $25.95 (Hardcover)

Will also be available in a Kindle edition and as an audio book.

This review first appeared at my Laura Ingalls Wilder blog, Laura’s Little Houses.  Though this book is not geared toward children, I occasionally post reviews here of books I feel will be of interest to parents.

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Tweet for Literacy Giveaways – Prize Package 8 Announced!


Our Motto: “The family that reads together has a lot of fun!”

The Tweet for Literacy Giveaway is a campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance of involving the whole family in a child’s reading activities. Tweet for Literacy will be giving away literacy-related prizes every two days throughout the month of November in honor of National Family Literacy Month. Help a child to read, and let the fun begin!

How to Enter the Tweet for Literacy Giveaways

Step 1: Follow our 7 sponsors on Twitter. This step is required. We will all follow you back!

Step 2: Re-tweet (RT) any post about the giveaway. Use the hashtag #Tweet4Lit on each RT. Be sure to add the URL link for this contest page. It’s .

Sample Entry Re-tweets

RT @ccmalandrinos Tweet for Literacy is giving away 12 prize sets and a grand prize thru Nov. Enter here. #Tweet4Lit

RT @ccmalandrinos Enter Tweet for Literacy giveaways here! New prize sets every 2 days. #Tweet4Lit

Step 3: That’s it! See the Official Rules below.

Official Rules

You can re-enter as many times as you like. Prizes are awarded every 2 days starting on November 8. First day to enter is November 6, 2009. Last day to enter is November 30. A prize package will be awarded on each even day of the month. Each prize package will be a set of items that are literacy related. See below for specific information on prizes.

The name of the winner will be selected at random and will be drawn at approximately 6pm CT. The winner will have 3 days to respond. If we don’t hear from the winner, we will select another winner for that prize package. We will notify our 13 winners by Direct Message (DM) on Twitter.

Whereas you can enter as often as you like, if you are not following all 7 sponsors on Twitter, which will be verified, your entries will be disqualified. All entries that comply with the above rules will be valid for each drawing, including the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize will be awarded on December 1, 2009.

Open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be at least 18 years old to enter.

If you have any questions or comments about the giveaway, please contact Linda Thieman at blog (at) katieandkimble (dot) com.

Our Sponsors


Holly Hardin, author of the children’s picture book Aurora of the Northern Lights

Twitter name: @hollyhardin

Blog: Holly’s Helpful Hints

Sheri Kaye Hoff, Life Coach and author of Keys to Living Joyfully

Twitter name: @sherikayehoff

Blog: Coach Sheri’s Living Joyfully Everyday blog

Nicole O’Dell, author of the Scenarios books for girls ages 10-15

Twitter name: @nicole_odell

Blog: Nicole O’Dell blog

Linda Thieman, author of the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story chapter book series for ages 7-10

Twitter name: @lindathieman

Blog: The Katie & Kimble Blog


Susan Buetow, homeschooling mom/blogger

Twitter name: @susieqtpies

Blogs: The Homeschool Messenger; Scraps of Life

Cheryl Malandrinos, writer/mom/book blogger

Twitter name: @ccmalandrinos

Blog: The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

April Pohren, mom/book blogger

Twitter name: @cafeofdreams

Blog: Café of Dreams

Prizes and Winners

The Tweet for Literacy campaign was designed to encourage family literacy. Our motto is “The family that reads together has a lot of fun!”

Our goal is to empower children and teens, especially girls, who are so often overlooked. We also seek to teach tolerance and self-acceptance through reading and through family interaction.

Our eighth prize package winner will be selected on November 22, 2009, at 6pm CT. Total value of Prize Package Eight is $116.

Prize Package Eight

1) A stuffed Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat doll, 24 inches high. A $25 value. Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor April Pohren.

2) Aurora of the Northern Lights by Holly Hardin (autographed — an $18.95 value), the delightful Yuletide-themed picture book by one of our Tweet for Literacy sponsors. Donated by the author.

3) The Katie & Kimble chapter book series by Linda Thieman, for ages 6 to 10. Lexile® measures: 280L and 290L. This set includes Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story and Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish. These are stories of love and healing, and are not scary! Donated and autographed by the author, one of our Tweet for Literacy sponsors. (Value: $11.90 per set)

4) The Raucous Royals: Test your Royal Wits: Crack Codes, Solve Mysteries, and Deduce Which Royal Rumors are True by Carlyn Beccia, for ages 9-12. A $17 value. Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor April Pohren.

5) How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (Value $7.99). (Young Adult). Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor Linda Thieman.

6) The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story by Marian Henley (A Memoir) $21.99 value. Great for the entire family. Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor April Pohren.

7) The Truth (I’m 10, I’m Smart and I Know Everything) by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. (Women’s Edition) Value: $12.95. Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor Cheryl Malandrinos.

Check back here daily as we will continue to update the list of prizes.

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Forever Liesl by Charmian Carr, with Jean A.S. Strauss

I am going to bring over many of the reviews I performed at The Book Connection to this new blog.  While this book isn’t geared towards children, The Sound of Music is a classic family film and I felt this audience would be interested.

 The Sound of Music is my favorite family film and I’ve always loved Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.  Forever Liesl is written by the actress who played the oldest daughter Liesl in The Sound of Music–Charmian Carr, along with Jean A.S. Strauss. It talks about her experiences on the set of this famous musical–how she got the part, what the actors were like, how the role of Liesl changed her life–and had letters from fans all over the world who shared with Carr how The Sound of Music impacted their lives. It is also filled with over 25 photos from the movie and Carr’s personal life.

From the back cover text, I had high hopes for this book.

“It’s all here: from how she got the role (and why she almost didn’t) to romances on the set and wild nights in Salzburg; from the near-disaster during the gazebo dance to her relationships–then and now–with her six celluloid siblings. Charmian also reveals why she left acting, what she learned when she met the real von Trapp children, and how The Sound of Music has helped her get through stormy times in her own life.”

Carr shares a great deal about the people involved in The Sound of Music; and by that I don’t mean she gossips about them. She talks about the actors and Robert Wise, Saul Chaplin, Ernest Lehman, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein with the respect due them for being a part of a wonderful film that has touched so many lives. But I think when you love a film like I do The Sound of Music, you tend to have greater expectations of how things were than what reality was. I don’t want to know that Christoper Plummer didn’t really want to do the film but took it because he felt a musical would be good for another role he was interested in. I also don’t want to believe that Plummer didn’t like acting with children or that he was just as stand-offish with the children on the set as Captain von Trapp was at the beginning of the movie. And then when I found out the songs that I thought Plummer had always sung in the movie were actually dubbed with someone else’s voice, I was almost afraid to read any more.

But, let’s face it, we have a more glamorous version of what acting is like than the people who act in these films do.

I liked the letters that Carr used from fans around the world as an opening for each new chapter. Some seemed better fitted to their chapters than others, but it was a nice transition into each new section. I have to admit, however, that the closest thing I read to a romance on the set was Nicholas (Friedrich) Hammond’s infatuation with Carr. And while the back cover told me I could expect to hear of wild nights in Saltzburg, I didn’t really think drinking in the lobby of the Bristol Hotel was very wild. But, I didn’t buy the book to read gossip. I bought it to learn more about my favorite film, so these things didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment of the book.

Sometimes you pick up a book and it entertains you, but you would probably never read it again. That’s how I feel about this memoir. I liked learning more about The Sound of Music through all the behind the scenes information only someone from the film would be able to share; but I know it now, so why would I ever pick it up off my book shelf again?

Overall, I think fans of the film will truly enjoy this book and it will make a nice addition to their The Sound of Music collection.

Rating:    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Penguin
  • ISBN-10: 0140298401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140298406
  • SRP: $15.00 (U.S.)