Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the log cabin described in Little House in the Big Woods. She and her family traveled by covered wagon across the Midwest. Later, Laura and her husband, Almanzo Wilder, made their own covered-wagon trip with their daughter, Rose, to Mansfield, Missouri. There, believing in the importance of knowing where you began in order to appreciate how far you've come, Laura wrote about her childhood growing up on the American frontier. For millions of readers Laura lives on forever as the little pioneer girl in the beloved Little House books.
Renée Graef received her bachelor's degree in art from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is the illustrator of numerous titles in the Little House publishing program, as well as Rodgers and Hammerstein's My Favorite Things and E.T.A Hoffman's The Nutcracker, adapted by Janet Schulman. She lives in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, with her husband and two children.
Christmas in the Big Woods
Christmas was coming to the Big Woods of Wisconsin where Laura lived with her Pa and Ma, her older sister Mary, and her baby sister Carrie. Their little log house was almost buried in snow. In the morning when Pa opened the door, there was a wall of show as high as Laura's head.
The days were clear and bright, but it was too cold to play outside. Laura and Mary stood on chairs and looked out the window. Great big icicles hung from the roof of the little log house. The icicles were as fat as the top of Laura's arm. The sunlight made them shine like glass.
At the end of every day, Pa came in from the cold with white frost on his mustache and beard. He stamped the snow from his boots and caught Laura up in a bear's hug against his big, cold coat.
Every night, Pa was busy. He was making a Christmas present for Ma.
Pa took one big piece of wood and two small pieces and whittled them with his knife. He rubbed them with sandpaper and with the palm of his hand. When Laura touched them, they felt soft and smooth as silk.
Then Pa took his knife and carved beautiful shapes, into the pieces of wood. He cut holes in the shapes of windows, little stars, moons, and circles. All around them, he carved tiny leaves and flowers and birds. When he was finished carving, he put all the pieces of wood together.
Pa had made a shelf for Ma. He hung it carefully on the log wall between the two windows. Ma placed her little china woman on the shelf.
The little china woman had a china bonnet on her head. China curls hung against her china neck. She wore a pale pink china apron over her china dress. And she wore little golden china shoes. She looked beautiful standing on the shelf Pa had made.
Every day, Ma was busy too. She was making good things to eat for Christmas. She baked bread and Swedish crackers. She cooked a huge pan of baked beans with salt pork and molasses. She made pies, and she filled a big jar with cookies. She let Laura and Mary lick the cake spoon.
One morning Ma boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup. Pa brought in two pans of clean white snow from outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan. Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams onto the snow.
Laura and Mary made circles, and curlicues, and squigglely things with the dark syrup. The shapes became hard and were candy. Ma said that Laura and Mary could eat one piece each. The rest must be saved for Christmas.
Ma was doing all this cooking because Aunt Eliza and Uncle Peter and the cousins, Peter and Alice and Ella, we're coming for Christmas.
Laura couldn't wait to see her cousins. She always played with Mary because Mary was her big sister and Carrie was too little to play with yet. And her cousins lived too far away to visit every day.
Laura liked playing with Mary most of the time. But Mary liked to play quiet games and Laura liked to run and jump and shout. Laura's cousins liked to run and jump and shout too.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.