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Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder Hardcover – May 1, 2017
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About the Author
Nancy Tystad Koupal is director and editor-in-chief of the Pioneer Girl Project and the South Dakota Historical Society Press. She received an M.A. in English from Morehead State University in Kentucky and did postgraduate work in American literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She founded the South Dakota Historical Society Press in 1997. Koupal is also the editor and annotator of Our Landlady (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), a collection of L. Frank Baum s satirical newspaper columns.
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Interesting Tidbits from the book:
“Leaning on her daughter’s apprenticeship in yellow journalism, Laura Ingalls Wilder felt free to meld genres, molding fact into fiction in ways that she did not acknowledge even to herself, attending to her novels’ ‘truth’ while providing the succor of a fictitious happy ending. That was a feature, she said, of ‘all good novels.’ It is a testament to the moral complexity of her art that we are still wrestling, decades after the fact, to separate truth from fiction.”
Laura and Rose had a tenuis working relationship. Rose’s two most famous books were based on Laura’s autobiography that she helped to work get published. After it didn’t get published as an adult novel, Rose reworked episodes of it for her adult fiction while Laura wrote her children’s books from the source material.
“She never glamorized anything; yet she saw the loveliness in everything.” Illustrator Garth Williams on Laura Ingalls. I was interested to read how his research for illustrating the books helped to solve a lot of the mysteries about place and settings for the books. For example Walnut Grove Minnesota didn’t know it was the setting for On the Banks of Plum Creek until Williams visited.
I read that an author I enjoy, Louise Erdrich started a series with the Birchbark House to tell the Native American side of the story with a little Native American girl growing up in the big woods of Wisconsin and getting displaced by white settlers. I’m reading this book now! It is interesting how the Little House books always describe the land as empty when it was in fact, inhabited by Native American tribes.
“Wilder’s most devoted fans do not simply identify with Laura or want to read about her, they want to be Laura. They attend conferences based on Wilder’s work. They research the lives of her friends, family, and acquaintances. They buy tickets to Wilder museums, pageants, and plays. They go on literary pilgrimages to the prairie towns and home sites associated with the books. They throw back their sunbonnets, kick off their shoes, and go wading on the banks of Plum Creek.” Hmmm... I have done everything in this paragraph except for attending a Little House conference. It felt strange to be so accurately described. Am I a Little house superfan?
Overall, Pioneer Girl Perspectives is a riveting collection of essays that delve into the many depths of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her classic series of books. This is a must read for any fan of the Little House series.
Book Source: Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes, De Smet, South Dakota
All of the writers here are top-notch, and they hold forth with not only authority, but enthusiasm and passion: they clearly relish their own discoveries and reaching out to the reader. I am grateful to have this book.
I think - incredibly, this book pretty much finalizes the Laura Ingalls Wilder saga. It hardly seems possibly that more can be discovered, said, or elucidated upon, and this is the perfect series of conclusions. Of course, this volume would not have been possible without the work of Pamela Smith Hill for being chiefly responsible for the book and research that preceded this one.
This is a staggering achievement on multiple levels.
Lastly, the heartiest thanks go to Laura herself, for providing this great country with all her stories and work.
Avid Laura Ingalls Wilder/Little House fans may enjoy the deeper insights into the times and circumstances of the beloved author, but casual fans may find its tone too scholarly and a bit grim.
Those who know much about the real Laura (as opposed to the character in the books or TV show) will likely not learn much new; we’ve known how the Little House books were fictionalized for some time. What this book provides is glimpses as to why. Thus, we read about the rise of “yellow journalism” just when Lane was cutting her reporting/writing teeth, and how she then conveyed her understanding of truth vs. facts to her mother, and why the fictional Pa would say that no daughter of his would work in a hotel, when in actuality the entire family, including Laura and Mary, did.
If you would enjoy an analysis of the Little House books and how they came to be, Pioneer Girl Perspectives is for you. If you want to keep the cherished story of a happy, independent family on the prairie untarnished, you should probably skip it.