While Laura Ingalls grows up in a little house on the western prairie, Almanzo Wilder is living on a big farm in New York State. Here Almanzo and his brother and sisters help with the summer planting and fall harvest. In winter there is wood to be chopped and great slabs of ice to be cut from the river and stored. Time for fun comes when the jolly tin peddler visits, or best of all, when the fair comes to town. This is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved story of how her husband Almanzo grew up as a farmer boy far from the little house where Laura lived.
In this installment of the Little House series, the reader takes a break from hearing about Laura and Mary’s exploits on the prairie and, instead, learns about life during the same period on a farm. It’s kind of fun to learn about a different lifestyle, but also feels like a departure from the narrative of the rest of the series, since Almanzo doesn’t play a role in Laura’s story until the later books. It’s definitely worth reading, but it would be okay to skip if you had a reader who just wasn’t into it.
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957) was born in a log cabin in the Wisconsin woods. With her family, she pioneered throughout America’s heartland during the 1870s and 1880s, finally settling in Dakota Territory. She married Almanzo Wilder in 1885; their only daughter, Rose, was born the following year. The Wilders moved to Rocky Ridge Farm at Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, where they established a permanent home. After years of farming, Laura wrote the first of her beloved Little House books in 1932. The nine Little House books are international classics. Her writings live on into the twenty-first century as America’s quintessential pioneer story.
Garth Williams (1912–1996) was known for his realistic yet highly expressive animal characters. He brought to life some of the best-loved children’s books of the twentieth century, including Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series and E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. Williams illustrated many timeless Golden Books, including Baby Farm Animals, Mister Dog, and The Friendly Book.