I read and re-read the Little House books, and then discovered the Rose books and the Caroline books and the Charlotte books and the Martha books. I visited the Little House in the Big Woods with my family when I was in elementary school (it’s about an hour away), toured Walnut Grove with my mother daughter book club in middle school, and made a detour to visit the DeSmet house in South Dakota a few years ago after a wedding.
When the Pioneer Girl craze hit, I knew our library had to jump on the Laura Ingalls Wilder train. In case you didn’t know, Pioneer Girl is Wilder’s memoir with footnotes and annotations by Pamela Smith Hill. Luckily I live in a state where Wilder lived (by the Banks of Plum Creek takes place in MN for those who did not know), and the Collection Manager at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in agreed to come to my library to discuss Wilder’s time in Minnesota.
The books originated as a memoir, but the publishers in the 1930s felt the market was not open to the memoir, so Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane rewrote the memoir into children’s books. The children’s books are slightly fictionalized versions of Wilder’s life, and we learned some interesting tidbits. For example, when the Ingalls traveled from Lake Pepin they stayed in a dugout and some of the memories from that time in a dugout find their way into On the Banks of Plum Creek. We also learned that the Ingalls family stopped at a brewery on their way to Iowa (probably Schells in New Ulm for all you Minnesotans out there), but that was cut because they felt it was not appropriate for children. Also, the entire time in Burr Oak, Iowa is cut from the series because the time spent in Iowa was generally depressing–the hotel business did not work out and a little brother Charles Frederick Ingalls was born and died.
The program was incredibly successful, some of our attendees even met Wilder!