“The Little House on the Prairie” is a well-known series, with eight books spanning Laura Ingalls Wilder’s early childhood up to her marriage to Almanzo Wilder, and her travels with her family as they migrate Westwards.
I suppose the Little House books appeal more to girls than boys, but one of my favourite books as a child was “Farmer Boy”, which is the story of Almanzo’s childhood growing up on a farm in New York State. Boys would certainly enjoy this as much as girls. My well-thumbed copy also has the bonus of being illustrated by Garth Williams, whose illustrations are so vivid. You may know him as the illustrator of “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White.
Almanzo is 8 and has two older sisters, Eliza Jane and Alice, and an older brother, Royal. The book describes their life at school, on the farm, the hard work but the fun as well. The descriptions of mealtimes and the food they ate are fabulous; Almanzo being a healthy growing boy loves mealtimes and he eats plenty, as he is desperate to grow bigger so that he will be allowed to have his own horse to train.
The week when their parents go away to visit relatives is also great fun, as the kids have a wild time of it in their parents’ absence. Almanzo has near-disasters involving his piglet, Lucy, and his mother’s finest parlour wall paper.
It is a fascinating insight into life in the mid 19th Century in the United States, and in particular, into farming and family life in those days. Every time my daughter is a bit bold now, I can say to her, “Do you think Almanzo would speak to his mum and dad like that?!”
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Over to you now. Have you read The Little House on the Prairie series? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.