Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Little House in the Big Woods

While I grew up reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, they are not books that I kept and re-read over and over. So I was surprised by the number of whippings referred to in "Little House in the Big Woods". I suspect my memory of the books has been overlaid by vague memories of Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon in the "prairies" of Southern California on the TV show. Surely Michael Landon didn't whip little girls, even if they slapped their sisters! Or maybe I've just forgotten that too..

Despite the whippings (which seem quite exotic to a child raised on "time outs" and the occasional empty threat of all her toys being taken away) my daughter loved this book. She was fascinated by the details of this family's way of life. The book describes everything from how the family stored food for the winter to what games the children played and how the wheat was harvested. We were both impressed by how hard people had to work in those days. We were astonished by the idea of children who are five or six years old who go to store for the first time in their entire lives. And, of course, I couldn't resist pointing out how grateful the children were when they received new red mittens and one piece of peppermint candy each for Christmas. Well, Laura also got a rag doll - but she was in rapture about receiving one homemade toy. I will leave you to imagine how impressed my modern child was about this little lecture on gratitude.

Personally, I'm feeling a great deal of gratitude that I'm not Laura's mom, working hard from sunrise to sunset and then mending socks by firelight after the sun goes down. Not to mention sleeping on a bed stuffed with straw in the same room as my children. However did Baby Carrie get conceived? Anyway, this book is great for anyone who wants to appreciate the joys of modern life, or wants to get a little nostalgic for the good old days when the women were strong, the men played a mean fiddle, and the children grew up to be world-famous authors.

No comments: