“Second Reading” of Big Woods

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: