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Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography Hardcover – December 30, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Wilder s memoir is a fascinating piece of American history, but it s the annotations that set Pioneer Girl apart as the most important work of its kind. . . . It thrills with new insights and mature content, educates with historical facts and documentation, and enlightens with cultural perspective and commentary, all while maintaining the spirit of adventure and integrity that is the backbone of the Little House world and Wilder herself. . . . With Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, Hill has ensured that not only will Laura Ingalls Wilder continue to inspire, but that her audience will grow and expand for generations to come. Pallas Gates McCorquodale, Foreword Reviews Magazine --pioneergirlproject.org/reviews/
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography offers an in-depth look at the original hand-written nonfiction manuscript by Wilder . . . an extensive back story of both Lane and Wilder as writers and the role Pioneer Girl played in their respective careers. . . . I found it fascinating . . . Pioneer Girl is dense with annotations that explain how original text was edited, where individual stories ended up in the final series, and how editors worked to fact-check Wilder s personal memories. . . . Most importantly, Pioneer Girl frames Wilder s work in a historical context and closes the gap between her pioneer days as a young girl and her life as a highly acclaimed fiction writer . . . Pioneer Girl offers an in-depth look at the circumstances that, over time, caused the original girlhood tales of Wilder to evolve into a series of bestselling books that earned Wilder critical acclaim and recognition that have endured for decades. Lane Brown, The Christian Science Monitor --pioneergirlproject.org/reviews/
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The information inside is absolute gold. I had no idea that there was anything else I could learn about Laura, as I have read every book written by, for, or about her, but there is so much. It truly gives new insight into what was true and what was fiction in the series. Reading Laura's words is like reading a letter written by my own grandmother, the style of writing is so honest and open. The side-bar information is fascinating. The depth of research that went into every name Laura mentions, every location, and every incident is mind-boggling.
I'm even more stunned now at Laura's memory. Although she makes a few mistakes about some names, for the most part, she remembers names of neighbors and details about events that are verified by Hill and the other researchers. It's truly impressive that Laura was able to remember so much detail about her childhood.
My absolute favorite little bit from Laura's writing was the story about the mitten she knitted for Baby Carrie. It is one of the sweetest stories I've read, and feels so absolutely true and with emotions that I can even remember feeling as a young child.
I still have a bit of the book to go. I'm a speed reader, and it still takes me an hour to get through ten pages. There is just SO MUCH packed onto each and every page that it takes awhile to digest. I've literally been waiting twenty years to read Pioneer Girl, ever since I first found out it existed, when I was about ten years old. Finally reading it is a little stunning.
This annotated version is a combination of the Pioneer Girl which was meant to be a true account of events that go into the fictionized children series, and much commentary of the content as well as historical accuracy of events. I would say an exhaustive commentary. The annotated comments show the close collaboration between Laura Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder in the compilation of this book and the Little House books. Much of the "contention" that you see in the annotation portion of the book between the two, I believe is really just looking inside the process of the development of the novels. The struggle between maintaining the balance of historical accuracy and making the books interesting enough to get published and sell; and for the children's books, acceptable for young readers. The comments gave me the impression that Laura and Rose worked well together, and that the collaboration helped both become better writers.
I believe the publisher and/or author did an excellent job of separating out the annotation and the Pioneer Girl text. Keep in mind you can have 4 or 5 pages of commentary between pages of text. Though, you can ignore the commentary and read the novel straight through as well.
One word of caution, if you would prefer to read only the Pioneer Girl, you could probably find a version cheaper and without the commentary. This books as I stated above gives exhaustive commentary, which personally I could not get enough of. Both the commentary and the novel give an excellent look into the times and experiences of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family in the years that compile the content of the novel as well as the times in which these books were written.
"God hates a coward." I loved to find out that Laura insists the exploits of Cap Garland and Almanzo were true.