HarperCollins Publishing Releases Little House Series in Digital Formats!

This is the day Little House fans have been waiting for–HarperCollins Publishers released the series for e-readers today!

It looks like they are only offering a 5-eBook set on the HCP website, but if you visit:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
GooglePlay

you will find all nine books available in digital format.

What would Laura think of this new way to read her books?

Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough

little author“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.”  This sentence opens Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the first in a series of children’s books that gave middle grade readers a glimpse into the life of America’s pioneer families. And for some–like myself–this would be the start of a lifelong desire to learn more about the real life of Laura, her sisters Mary, Carrie, and Grace, and her parents Charles and Caroline Ingalls.

In a style similar to the  Little House books, author Yona Zeldis McDonough has created a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder aimed toward middle grade readers that not only helps point out the fact and the fiction behind Wilder’s classic children’s books, but also celebrates the independent mind of the Quiner and Ingalls women along the way.

McDonough’s book opens not with Wilder, but with a brief prologue discussing the life of Caroline Lake Quiner, who would one day become Caroline Ingalls. This sets the tone for the rest of this biography, as it highlights how Caroline’s mother, Charlotte, believed in higher education for girls; something Ma Ingalls also wanted for her daughters.

Told in chronological order, Little Author in the Big Woods follows Wilder’s life and the journeys she took not only with her family, but later with her husband Almanzo and daughter Rose. It talks about the hardships the Wilders faced as a young married couple and of their leaving De Smet, South Dakota to settle in Mansfield, Missouri. Readers learn about the building of the dream house on Rocky Ridge Farm and Wilder’s early career writing for the Missouri Ruralist, before moving on to the creation of the Little House series. McDonough ends with an epilogue that discusses the longevity of Wilder’s work and Michael Landon’s classic television show, Little House on the Prairie, which is based upon the books. Readers are also treated to quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder, details on some of the games that Laura played, crafts, and recipes. Also included is a list of other writings by Wilder and a list with some of the other books about her.

While I have to admit I learned little new about Laura Ingalls Wilder as a result, I believe middle grade readers will enjoy getting to know more about her real life and the independent nature of the women in the Quiner, Ingalls, and Wilder families. With a similar writing style and design to the Little House series, readers will feel right at home with this book. Jennifer Thermes did an excellent job in capturing the essence of McDonough’s book and Wilder’s life with her beautiful illustrations. I’m thrilled to add Little Author in the Big Woods to my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection.

 

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Series: Christy Ottaviano Books
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (September 16, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080509542X
ISBN-13: 978-0805095425

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams

Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams is the story of fourteen-year-old Almanzo Wilder going West with his parents, older sister Alice, and baby brother Perly.

Mother receives a letter from her brother George, who lives in Spring Valley, Minnesota. He encourages the Wilders to pay him and his new wife a visit to see if they would like to move there.

It takes months of preparations, but once winter is over, the Wilders board a train to start their journey to Spring Valley. Royal and Eliza Jane are being left behind to watch the farm in Malone, New York. Almanzo is excited to go, but he knows he will miss his horse, Starlight.
Farmer Boy Goes West is a superb addition to the Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House legacy. Meant to serve as a sequel to Wilder’s Farmer Boy, this story of a teenage Almanzo going West captures all the excitement and adventure of the original Little House books, while providing some insight into the man Laura Ingalls would eventually marry.

A healthy blend of fact and fiction, Williams captures the essence of the original Little House books, while maintaining an air of her own style. The events in this book are condensed to two years instead of the five years it actually took for the Wilders to make their move from New York to Minnesota. She also took liberties with some of the historical characters. I don’t feel that had a negative impact on the story, but those who are sticklers for facts might have an issue with it. I’m hoping not, since this is a truly delightful story. The only thing that really made me stop for a second came in the second chapter, when it said, “One day in January, soon after Almanzo’s fourteenth birthday…” Almanzo’s birthday is in February. While Wilder did play around with the Wilder siblings’ birthdays in Farmer Boy–making Almanzo closer in age to his older brother and sister–as far as I recall, she didn’t change the month Almanzo was born.

As with any great story, things aren’t always easy. Almanzo ends up having to attend a new school in Minnesota. He has to make new friends. He misses Starlight and Royal, maybe even his bossy older sister, Eliza Jane. He likes a girl at school, but is shy and has no idea how to get to know her. His Aunt Martha isn’t very happy about jamming the Wilders into their tiny home.

There are also some neat surprises and interesting historical characters added in, but you won’t know what or who those are unless you read the book.

I’m thrilled to add Farmer Boy Goes West to my Little House collection.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061242519
ISBN-13: 978-0061242519
SRP: $15.99 

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

On the Dakota prairie, the muskrats build their thick-walled houses and the geese fly south with great haste, not even stopping to rest in the Big Slough. Pa Ingalls watches these signs and worries of what they foretell.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder continues the saga of the Ingalls family–pioneers who moved west until they finally settled in the new town of De Smet in Dakota Territory. A surprise October blizzard leaves Pa fearful for his family’s safety as their claim shanty is in no condition to withstand the seven months of storms a wise Indian warns them of.

Pa moves Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace into the store building in town so they can be snug and warm, and close to supplies. But the constant blizzards, sometimes only a day or two apart, keep the trains from reaching De Smet. There is no coal, no kerosene, no flour, and no game to hunt. The men go to work on sunny days with picks and shovels, trying to clear the Tracy cut so that the trains can get through to the townspeople who are slowly wasting away. Then the word comes–no trains until spring, and the people of De Smet wonder how long they can survive.

The days are filled with chores and lessons. Ma, Mary, Laura, and Carrie take turns grinding seed wheat in the coffee mill while Pa hauls hay from the claim. Pa and Laura, and sometimes even Ma and Mary twist hay to feed the fire. They eat only two meals a day and go to bed early to save hay and food. Laura notices how pale Carrie looks these days. The store shelves are empty and there are no wages because there has been no work since the trains shut down.

Cap Garland and Almanzo Wilder, who runs the feed store with his older brother Royal, set off on an early clear morning to find a farmer south of town who might have seed wheat to sell. It is a cold, long trip as their horses and sleds fall into deep snow drifts and have to be dug out. They run alongside their sleds, stamping their feet and slapping their hands against their frozen bodies to prevent frostbite.

They hustle to pack sixty bushels of seed wheat onto their sleds and make it back to town before the next storm. They spy a blizzard cloud in the northwest, blotting out stars one by one. They push their tired horses faster while the townspeople of De Smet worry over Cap’s and Almanzo’s fate, and the wheat that might keep them from starvation.

The reason I am drawn to this book is because of its wonderful descriptions. Wilder paints a clear picture of what it was like to live in Dakota Territory during what it usually referred to as the Hard Winter. From the hunger, to the frost covered nails on the roof of her house, to the piercing screams of the constant blizzards, Wilder pulls me in. I feel the pain Laura experiences as she watches her family suffer through the dangers of living in a new town where not even rabbits can be hunted for food. I admire Almanzo and Cap as they risk their lives to save the townspeople. And I join in the excitement of waiting for that first train to arrive after months of no supplies.

A book of courage against seemingly insurmountable odds makes The Long Winter a must read for all Laura Ingalls Wilder fans.

Rating:   🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: HarperCollins 
  • ISBN-10: 0064400069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064400060
  • SRP:  $6.99 (U.S.)