Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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I have so very many fond memories of reading the Little House on the Prairie Books. My dad read them aloud to me and my older sisters, later again to my brother and the next sister, and before long he’ll probably be starting again on them with my youngest brother and sister. I was always surprised when people told me they hadn’t read them, or hadn’t read beyond Little House on the Prairie. That meant that they likely based their opinion on the TV series, which is nothing like second half of the series at all.

They were a huge inspiration for my early writing, namely Life in Sugarpine Valley (catchy, eh?) the fanciful story of a pioneer family set in 1870s or 1880s Oregon.

 On the Banks of Plum Creek was long my favorite, but soon it was overtaken by On the Shores of Silver Lake and Little Town on the Prairie. Even after I had exhausted them, they lived on for me.  So when I heard that her original autobiography was going to be published, I was naturally excited. But for some reason I just never got around to it.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I got to thinking about the series, and how much I had enjoyed them, and made a last minute addition to my list for the library.

The Book (From Goodreads)

Pioneer Girl follows the Ingalls family’s journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory sixteen years of travels, unforgettable experiences, and the everyday people who became immortal through Wilder’s fiction. Using additional manuscripts, letters, photographs, newspapers, and other sources, award-winning Wilder biographer Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and leads readers through Wilder’s growth as a writer.

My Thoughts 

But there. If you’ve read the Little House books, you already know the story.

If you haven’t, why not?

This could be described as a longish synopsis of all eight Little House books. There are a few anecdotes and details that are absent from the novels, such as Charles Fredrick, her brother who died in infancy, and several illnesses that were not mentioned in the books because it was thought it would be too many for a children’s book. I wish she would have included the story about the tortoiseshell comb she and Mary had bought for Ma; it was so sweet. There were also a few humorous little incidents, similar in nature to the one story when a dog chases a cat into church during the sermon and the kit takes refuge under Laura’s hoop skirt.

I was a little disappointed to find out that the buggy ride with Almanzo in Little Town on the Prairie (the one right after she had gotten her name cards) was fictional. It was always a favorite of mine, one of those ‘take that Nellie Olson’ stories. 😀

It looks rather large, but the type is proportionately big, and half of each page is margin for the annotated part of the autobiography. I know some people were annoyed by how present the notes were, but once I had gotten used to it I liked having them there. They provided good additions to the narrative without tampering with the original.

The introduction was interesting, too, but long, and I confess I eventually skipped that latter part and went on ahead.

To sum it up, Pioneer Girl is a must read for any fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories.

Have you read Pioneer Girl? Are you a Little House fan, too? Leave a comment and fangirl with me! 😀

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