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Stefanie

Maybe the melancholy is the difference between youth and maturity or expectations and hopes versus reality? Glad you enjoyed reading all the books though. It was fun following along!

LizF

Despite having had a love of all things Western since I was very young (it was the horses at first and then a fascination with the life - or maybe just growing up in the 60's when series like The Virginian and Bonanza ruled the TV roost) I have never read the Little House books nor did I watch the TV series,
After you started mentioning reading them last year, I got hold of a gift set which looks to be the same as you have but real life intervened and I ended up putting it away until around October when I bought a set for my eldest grand daughter from a British source. The new set doesn't contain Farmer Boy but does have other titles not in the original set cue a certain amount of confusion on my part.
As a result, I have decided to give the boxed set to Amelia for her birthday in June, because I think she will prefer the coloured illustrations to the line drawings in the other set - but I will make a point of reading Farmer Boy before I hand them over! Naughty I know, but I am a very careful reader and she will never be able to tell!
After reading your posts, I am very much looking forward to starting them as well as reading a biography of Laura Ingles Wilder which I came across in a second hand book shop!

Danielle

Yes, I think so too. I think she must have written most of the books when she was much younger, starting out in her marriage perhaps, fresh and optimistic and the last one was written after Almanzo died and she was looking back on a more challenging life. But it was still good. I loved the first eight and will happily reread any of them. Do you have a favorite? I think mine might be the first and the last! I also loved Farmer Boy, too. Glad you enjoyed the journey from first book to last!

Danielle

Which bio of LIW did you find? I have a YA bio of her as well as two books of letters also edited for a juvenile audience, but I will take a break from the Prairie for a little while. You will love the books when you get to them. I'd say you are very safe to read Farmer Boy out of sequence if you are just looking to read it before passing it on--she'll never know! ;) That's strange one set came w/out that book. There was an annotated book on LIW that came out last fall from a historical society that my library got (after much trouble--as I am the one who had to acquire it--I think they didn't realize how much interest the book would have and immediately ran out of their first print run), which I must go look at now that I have read the books. I sort of want to distance myself before reading about the real LIW since these are such (mostly anyway) lovely, gentle, nostalgic reads. Reality is always much harder, and dirtier and never quite so rosy and I want my memories all nice and cozy. Is that totally shallow of me?

Caroline

Interesting difference about being a pioneer 's daughter or a farmer's daughter. I guess it different in many ways.
I can imagine that it would be strange to read this if the tone is so different form the first eight books. But Interesting nonetheless.
It's admirable that you managed to read them all. Quite a journey, indeed. :)

Danielle

I started reading these a year ago? Maybe it was even a bit longer. Maybe I am getting a 'second breath' if you know what I mean, when it comes to reading. I was so derailed there for so long I feel like keeping up with my reading and not just moving from one thing to the next. The books were all good--the last interesting in how different it felt. Considering how often the Ingalls family moved, I guess they weren't really a farm family since her Pa tended to do other work along with growing crops. They moved so much. Maybe farmer's tend to stay put. After reading that last book I think, too, that maybe Ma did a whole lot more of the work for the family than I first realized. I sort of thought the girls pitched in quite a lot. I think they did, but some areas Ma just made it all run so smoothly she didn't really need the help. Now, however, I think I am ready for an entirely different adventure!

LindaY

That was the distinction between a pioneer girl and a farmer's daughter. The latter stayed put; the former moved on when there were opportunities elsewhere. Laura appeared to have inherited Charles' "itchy feet." I'm sure the girls helped out as much as they could, but so many of those pioneer tasks took sheer muscle a child didn't have. Just reading about women's chores back then makes my back, legs, and arms ache.

LizF, I am really curious to know about your set which has no FARMER BOY but has "other books originally not in the set." What are the books?

Danielle

I had not thought before of the difference between the two. I know Laura was very much like her Pa and would have been happy to move on once again! It must have been difficult then (and maybe that explains the different tone of this book) to become a Farmer's Wife. No wonder she traveled (I have two more YA books of her letters from her travels--one to SF--which I think maybe you have already read?). Now that you mention it, I wonder, too, if there were other books in the UK set that we didn't get here--hopefully Liz will see this-I'll ask her.

LizF

The biography is by Pamela Smith Hill so it may be the book that you have as I see from the blurb that she has written YA books.
I don't think it is shallow to prefer the rose-tinted image to harsh reality, so long as you realise that that is the case. It is my reason for not watching gritty wildlife documentaries - I know very well that nature is red in tooth and claw I just don't want to watch it in HD colour in my living room!

Jeane

Someday I will revisit this series, I remember my mother reading them all to us when I was young, and I read a few to my older daughter but now it feels so long ago. I've enjoyed reading your posts about them.

Stefanie

Not sure about favorite but the one that stuck with me most is Long Winter. It made a big impression on my sunny southern California brain!

Danielle

I could see where that would make an impression on a child who might never have seen snow before! I remember those maple syrup scenes where they would pour it into the snow to eat!

Danielle

I really enjoyed reading them all and writing about them. I will revisit them someday again, too. They would be great books to read aloud to children. I remember my first or second grade teacher reading my class some of the books from the railroad children series!

Danielle

Actually mine is by William Anderson and geared towards a YA audience. Pamela Smith Hill just came out, last fall, with an annotated book on LIW which I want to go grab from the shelf as my library has a copy, but it's been too busy so far for me to do so. I have seen photos of what sod houses and those claim shanties looked like and I know how challenging it would have been to live back then! I could not have done it. The illustrations make it all look so nice and homey and it is a nice memory to have of the stories, but I know that reality would have been vastly different. Though I think Almanzo did eventually build Laura a really nice house--much more what I would think of as comfortable. And I know what those documentaries are like--you want the photographers to step in and help, but know it is not going to happen and that's just the way nature is!

LizF

Hello Linda and Danielle
This is a bit of a story but bear with me.
When Danielle first mentioned starting to read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books which was at least a year and maybe more ago, I decided that I wanted to read them myself being a huge fan of books with that sort of setting. They weren't in the library and appeared to be out of print in the UK so I ended up ordering a collector's boxed set of the first five books from Amazon USA. The set comprises Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake.

Being me I put the collection on a shelf and almost forgot about it until this autumn when I was looking through a Book People catalogue, searching for ideas for my grandchildren when I spotted a set of seven Wilder books for rather less than I had paid for the boxed set and thought that they might make a good present for my eldest granddaughter. When they arrived, I found that the set did not include Farmer Boy but did have The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years. I have no idea why Farmer Boy is missing but it isn't even mentioned in the series list - maybe there is a copyright problem with it?
It could of course be that because the books weren't that well known in the UK until the Michael Landon TV series came out,(they certainly never came my way when I was growing up in the 60's and 70's) they decided to publish the books that featured familiar characters and not the one about Almanso as I don't know whether he came into the TV series at all.

The boxed set is going to be given to my granddaughter for her birthday in the summer as I think the full colour illustrations will appeal to her more than the line drawings of the other set, but as I confessed to Danielle, I am going to read Farmer Boy before I hand it over!
Hope this explains things.

LizF

The book is part of the South Dakota Biography Series apparently and I can only presume that it turned up in a Yorkshire charity shop because we have a US military base nearby. They must have been very careful readers because it looks almost brand new!

Danielle

It's always curious which books end up in places like that. When I was living in Austria for a year I found a great English language used bookstore and I read such a mishmash of books that year! Stephen King and Rita Mae Brown and true crime sorts of books... Some of my books that I know I have read are still in pristine condition--it makes me wonder sometimes if I had ever read it or not. Now I pencil in them and so I will always know it it has been read or not. Such blasphemy. I have eased up quite a lot when it comes to my own books.

Danielle

I never read Farmer Boy as a child, but now it is one of my favorites. I don't think Almanzo ever appeared in the TV show, but my memory is faulty so maybe I am just assuming he wasn't there. I don't recall a very grown up Laura at all to be honest. Interesting combinations of books in those sets. Maybe it does have to do with copyright--or maybe the publisher is just printing the books they think would appeal most to European readers? Farmer Boy is sort of a digression so I can see where it might be left off, but in the whole scheme of things--it is a good story and offers a view of Almanzo's life as a boy and fills in that part of the story nicely. Those illustrations just make the books--and lucky that you have the set that has color illustrations--mine are all B&W. Your granddaughter will love them (I hope so anyway!). It took me rather too long to get through all those books (no reason why--other than you know how easily I am distracted by shiny new books!).

LizF

I still can't bring myself to write in my books - well not if they are new anyway. I am slightly more relaxed if they are of the well-loved variety when they come to me but I had to leave the room when a friend picked up the book we had just given him as a present and bent it back, cracking the spine!
I know it was his book and he had every right to do what he wanted with it but it still made me want to slap him!

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