Sunday, August 4

Laura Ingalls Wilder - A Review

Little House on the Prairie was my first stay-up-late chapter book. I remember hiding under my blankets with a flashlight, trying not to get caught reading past bedtime. I also remember watching the show every day after school. My sister and I loved the Little House show with Melissa Gilbert playing the part of Laura Ingalls.

My boys grew up loving the Little House series. They enjoyed our trip to the Little House Museum in Mansfield as well, and I knew we would all enjoy watching Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder when given the opportunity by Legacy Documentaries
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This beautiful documentary shares the true story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, beginning with her marriage to Almanzo and their move to Manfield, Missouri. I squealed when I realized the documentary was narrated by Dean Butler, the actor who played Almanzo in the old t.v. series.

There were many interesting parts of the story that I either didn't remember or had never known, such as:
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  • Almanzo suffered a stroke as a result of diptheria while Rose was still quite young. Rose went to stay with Ma & Pa Ingalls while her parents both healed from the diptheria. Almanzo's stroke left him needing a cane to walk with.
  • Laura's first public authorship was a speech that she wrote about chickens. She was unable to travel to give the speech herself, so someone else read the speech for her. It was well received and led to Laura writing as a columnist for the Missouri Ruralist. Her column was "As a Farm Woman Thinks."
  • Laura wrote several Fairy Poems for children, which were featured in a San Francisco newspaper column entitled "Tuck Em In Corner".
  • Laura's first book about her childhood was Pioneer Girl. It was an autobiography, not a children's story and it was soundly rejected by publishers. One publisher commented that it would make a good kid's book, which prompted Laura to try again with a different audience. Her new piece was entitled "When Grandma Was a Little Girl." The depression was taking its toll on publishing companies, but this new book was accepted, with the caveat that the tile be changed to Little House in the Big Woods.
  • Farmer Boy was the second book that she wrote in the series, but it was rejected. She rewrote it considerably before it was accepted. 
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek was a turning point in her writing. Prior to Plum Creek, Rose had played a very active and influential role in Laura's writing. Plum Creek was done with little intervention from Rose and featured Laura's talents as a writer with much depth, as did her following books.
What I especially found fascinating in the documentary was the glimpse into the relationship between Laura and her daughter. They were very close, but they didn't always like each other. It was a unique bond and I found it interesting to take peek into their friendship.

The DVD was wonderful and we all enjoyed it for a family movie night. My boys did laugh a bit at some of the cheesy acting done by a teenage Laura being courted by Almanzo. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either. You can watch some samples of the video online. It is available for purchase for $24.95.

Legacy Documentaries also offers a documentary about Almanzo's life before marrying Laura. Be sure to check out other reviews of both products in the link below.
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Kathy said...

Hi Jenn, it's so funny you started out with remembering how you hid under the covers with your flashlight reading Laura's son (now graduated) did the same thing. Thanks for the sweet memories and the awesome review, many interesting tidbits!

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