Top positive review
45 people found this helpful
I can't believe how good this was
on February 7, 2005
As a thirty one year old man, I don't suppose I'm the target audience for the "Little House on the Prairie" series. But after reading this book on a whim, I have to say that I'm hooked.
Laura Ingalls and her family eke out a difficult living on the plains of Minnesota during the time of pioneers and native americans. They are a tightknit family focused on doing the right thing, but their closeness and morality are severely challenged by the harshness of prairie life. They battle floods, drought, fires, blizzards, and insect infestations, all while trying to earn enough money to work toward a better life. Laura and her sister Mary have their first experiences with church and with school, and have to try to fit in as country bumpkins among more street-smart peers (most notably the obnoxious and relatively rich Nellie Oleson).
I found this book to be very charming. The unrelenting goodness of the entire Ingalls family is a bit tiresome at times, but the unflagging earnestness with which it is portrayed won me over, and I soon found myself completely invested in their happiness. The fact that they are happy with so little is refreshing, especially when viewed against the backdrop of modern times. The fact that it took place so long ago, and in such a harsh setting, actually made the good-hearted characters seem more believable.
But what really sells this book is the authentic portrayal of the way of life that the Ingalls' live. Living in a dugout by a creek, cutting the grass to make hay, and knitting clothes during long and dreary days; the book's colorful details make a practically-extinct lifestyle come alive. In particular, the way that the Ingalls must observe nature and learn to live within the context of it's rhythms and cycles was very interesting.
I watched the television show occasionally, and am surprised that this book is the first mention of Nellie Oleson, or the titular house, or some of the other storylines that were such staples on the show. I look forward to reading the other books and learning more about the elements that were not so prominently displayed.
One warning that I have is to avoid reading the back cover of the book. In six short sentences, it manages to spoil the single biggest plot twist in the book, which doesn't come until 200 pages in. Just pick it up and start reading, and you'll be happier for it.
Usually when I review children's books, I struggle with how to address elements that parents may not want to expose their children to. But in this case, happily, there's no conflict. Everything is not only G-rated, but blissfully so.