Special Summer Event In Malone

February 29, 2008

Been meaning to take that trip to Malone? This just might be your year. If I were you, I’d keep the third weekend in June free. Sources are telling us it looks like more than one very special guest will be on hand. As soon as the word is official, we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, here’s what Farmer Boy‘s Trout River looks like in the 21st Century:

Trout River in Burke, NY (outside of Malone)


De Smet Offers New Travel Itineraries

February 28, 2008

Check out Sarah’s Notebook at Trundlebed Tales for new info on what’s up in De Smet. In De Smet, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society (not to be confused with Ingalls Homestead, owned and operated separately from the holdings of the Memorial Society) has posted new travel itineraries on their web site, DiscoverLaura.org, directed at folks visiting De Smet for a Laura experience.

She’s also got some new info on Keystone, SD — Carrie Ingalls’ longtime home.

“Second Reading” of Big Woods

February 27, 2008

I always love seeing Laura coverage in the mainstream press. I am particularly tickled to read about her in publications I admire, for example, this story in the Washington Post.

The author is a onetime Pulitzer winner and a longtime book critic for the Post. He was born the same year as my mother, which puts him in his late sixties—of the age to read the Little House series almost as it was released.  His piece is part of “Second Readings,” a “series in which The Post’s book critic reconsiders notable and/or neglected books from the past.”

Though it’s not said explicitly, the impetus for choosing a Little House book seems to be the release of the horrifying, photographic “adventure” edition of the series, devoid of Garth Williams’ essential illustrations. (Check out the final sentence for why.)

The story was printed in November 2007 and picked up by newspapers across the country, particularly in the Midwest. I love his perspective:

“[H]istorians of the frontier …insist that life was a lot harder and a lot less sunny than Wilder portrays it. They’re right, but they also miss the pioint. As was made plain to me by my first rereading of “Little House in the Big Woods” after more years than I care to contemplate, Wilder’s books are not so much about pure historical accuracy, of which they probably don’t have all that much, as about more elemental things; familial love and loyalty, learning how to come with whatever life brings you, treating animals kindly, passing from innocence toward maturity.”

He also defends Laura’s “for children only” apporoach by noting her age at the time of her authorship, tellingly similar to his own: “She was at a point when the temptation of nostalgia is strong, and she did not resist it.” 

The piece is basically centered around his reread of Little House in the Big Woods, which I’m particularly enjoying since I’m mired in that right now. Aside from his claim that “the best of her books unquestionably is Little House on the Prairie” – mmmkay – this is one of my favorite pieces of writing about Laura I’ve seen in a while. 

Go on. Read it if you haven’t yet.

-sandra hume

On ostrich feathers …

February 26, 2008

I’ve been reminded just how valuable and supportive a community like this can be—an online meeting place, a hub of common interest and support. In my introductory post and on the “About” page, I had the audacity to claim that Laura’s poke bonnet had ostrich feathers on it. The lovely and talented Diana Birchall quickly corrected me – it was the cream-colored hat, not the poke bonnet, that Laura re-sewed the ostrich feathers onto so tightly. 

There are hundreds of details between the covers of all the Little House books. We can’t memorize them all. We can only collect them in the place in our hearts and minds that pulls Laura in. We can share them and laugh over them, weave them into our spoken and written sentences, pull them from our memory when the time is right. Perhaps we can try to get every fact correct, to memorize every detail so that we never misspeak. I can’t. What’s more, I don’t want to. I want to rely on my imperfect memory, as Laura did when she sat down to write her life story. I want my own experiences to color how I see the world of Little House and how I remember it. Stories are only as big as the people who read them. I want Little House to remain amorphous and out there, not contained—or constrained—between two covers, or even within my mind. 

It’s so much bigger than that.

-sandra hume

“I’ll wear my delaine.”

February 24, 2008

Right now my daughter and I are midway through Little House in the Big Woods, which we read a little bit of each night before bed. Tonight we got to this: 

Pa’s blue eyes twinkled; he had been saving the best for the last, and he said to Ma: 

“Hey Caroline! There’ll be a dance!”

Ma smiled. She looked very happy, and she laid down her mending for a minute. “Oh Charles!” she said.

Then she went on with her mending, but she kept on smiling. She said:

“I’ll wear my delaine.”

In all my years and all my reading, I’m not sure that in the whole series I’ve ever come across a line that I like more.

-sandra hume

The Play’s the Thing

February 23, 2008

As was recently covered in the Homesteader, this summer will see a “Little House on the Prairie” stage premiere at the renowned Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And it’s a musical.

I ran across a blog post about this production written by Esther, a theater aficionado-slash-Little House fan. Click on through for links to the play’s logo, the director’s web site (the only source to mention a premiere date of August 15), a few interesting news stories (one of which claims the show will come to Broadway) and some background on some of the key players in the production. The post is well worth visiting.

I really, really, really want to go to Minneapolis this summer to catch this show. Anyone else trying to make it happen?

-sandra hume

This book review is kind of hilarious

February 22, 2008

This past weekend I listened to Little House on the Prairie on CD for the very first time. (I know, what took me so long?) I’ll have more to say in the future about my amazement at how much more I noticed hearing it read aloud, but for now, all I’ll do is admit that since reading this review, when considering the Ingalls’ travails in Kansas I can’t help but have a slightly different view of Pa.

-sandra hume