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Little House in the Big Woods: Little House in the Big Woods

Maggie Mae

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Little House in the Big Woods

This chapter starts off with "Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs." 1959 was VERY different! In this chapter, we are introduced to the little girl, named Laura. She is just described as "little." She's got a Ma and Pa, and two sisters. Mary is older and Carrie is younger. I apologize for my lack of LHOTP knowledge, I never read all of them, and I watched a bit of the show. I do remember going to a program at our library (it was Very Crowded) and hearing someone tell us all about how the show was terrible and nonfactual and blah blah blah. Well, the show was a fictional retelling of the books, which were also marketed as fiction, and the main purpose of television is to sell ads and be entertaining (so they can sell ads). I knew that at 10, so why that guy was so angry was kind of weird. 

We learn that there are wolves in the woods, but Pa has a gun he keeps hanging over the door. The front yard has Oak Trees. There are no neighbors. Pa shoots a deer. Then he slaughters a pig. They all smoke some venison with hickory chips.

Winter is coming. 

Spoiler

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After much discussion of the deer meat and the smoking process (which is interesting, you should read it. It seems like we use the same techniques to this day, only instead of using child labor to find hickory chips (?) on the ground, I buy them at True Value.)  Pa finds a bear eating a pig, doesn't get the bear, only the pig. Laura likes bear meat. (I'm not a fan. Maybe Wisconsin bears "sixty years ago" (I can't find a copyright, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is not describing 1959, or even 1958) are tastier than 2016 Alaska Bear, but I'll take deer meat or moose meat or wild boar over bear any day. Moose is so very lean and versatile. 

Pa goes away one day and comes back with a wagon full of fish, which Ma has to process. Ma, I feel ya. Last summer we were gifted with a LOT of salmon, and spent a Saturday cleaning then in our driveway. I gave a head to my cat, which he ate and then threw up, because he's a little piggy pig who's favorite food is salmon. He hates turkey and most wild birds, though he'll eat the ones he catches himself I'm not fast enough to stop him and toss him back inside. He's old now, and will likely be an indoor cat for the rest of his life. 

They process some vegetables from the garden and a pig. Laura doesn't want to hear the pig die, though she has no issues with playing with the bladder later. 

Spoiler

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They have an Uncle Henry! I had forgotten that they had extended family. It seems like life is OK in Pepin. Oh, yeah, they mention Lake Pepin. I guess Pa went dipnetting and that's where they got the white fish that they salted and stored in barrels. 

Once it got cold, Laura and Mary had to stay inside to play. They also had to help with processing the pig, which sounded like a lot of work. They play with squashes and pumpkins (pumpkins are squash!) and their house is full of food. Mary has a rag doll but Laura only has a corncob doll. 

At night, Pa plays his fiddle, which is the "best time of all." 

It's been a really long time (if ever) since I've read these books. I vaguely remember picking up an occasional one as a kid. I know I had Farmer Boy, and I remember reading about Pa shaving Mary's head after she came down with a fever, but this one is kind of an unknown. I also didn't remember Farmer Boy being second in the series. I know that if I did read them as a child, they were read out of order. 

So far, I like it. It's a lot more "childish" than I expected, based on the size of the book. I'm wondering/hoping that the third person limited narration will grow with Laura. It's weird reading about them making headcheese (gross) but also interesting? I am also interested in reading more about these "Big Woods." 

I don't plan on being too snarky, just reading the books, recapping/reviewing as I go, and sort of sharing bits from my life. I found her focus on food interesting - I imagine that later in the long winter the family will begin to starve. It's a common thing in Kid's lit. It was clear to me, as well, that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone while she was going through some stuff, as she focused quite heavily on food descriptions at Hogwarts. Which worked out well, as Harry was also being starved.  

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AliceInFundyland

Posted

I’m glad you’ve chosen this. I’d like to have somewhere to discuss tidbits from the annotated biography.

I read them so. many times.  And then we moved to Kansas! We visited that site and got the worlds best gingerbread recipie.

They remained beloved. And in later years as more material emerged I read it, cause thats what one does when you are into something.

My parents couldn’t have monitored all my reading. It would have exhausted them. 

I was deemed “sensible” and so it went.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

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formergothardite

Posted

I always wanted to play with a pig's bladder after reading that book! Now it sounds awful but when I was a kid it sounded like the best thing ever! 

IMO the Big Woods book is the most gentle one. After they start the difficult journey to the Prairie things get a bit darker.

One my my life goals is to go visit all the Laura Ingalls Wilder places. I want to wade in Plum Creek! 

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clueliss

Posted

As an adult, I want to know how in the hell my mother and her family could have known about my obsession with Little House and NOT planned a trip to the Kansas site.  My mother was born and raised in the county to the East.  We went to the zoo in Independence (KS) a few times when I was a kid.  I feel so cheated.    

I'd like to take a field trip/vacay (maybe this year) to the KS site and Mansfield MO.  Leaving MN/IA/SD for another time.  

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AliceInFundyland

Posted

I am fairly certain that it was bribery on my mother’s part.

”Participate in this move and we can go see where Laura lived”

If only they had built that oft talked of Ozland theme park. 

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GreyhoundFan

Posted

On 1/12/2019 at 5:23 PM, formergothardite said:

One my my life goals is to go visit all the Laura Ingalls Wilder places. I want to wade in Plum Creek! 

A few years ago, my BFF and I did the LIW tour. We didn't get to do Missouri, due to timing, but plan to do that site this year. Plum Creek is beautiful. It's on private property, but the owner lets people visit for a small donation (honor box). They have the actual dugout site marked and the creek looks just like Laura described. We spent quite a bit of time walking around and then sat on the picnic table the owner has right beside the creek. If you get that far, make sure to go to DeSmet, SD, the Little Town on the Prairie. It is so worth the trip.

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fransalley

Posted

On 1/12/2019 at 5:23 PM, formergothardite said:

I always wanted to play with a pig's bladder after reading that book! Now it sounds awful but when I was a kid it sounded like the best thing ever! 

IMO the Big Woods book is the most gentle one. After they start the difficult journey to the Prairie things get a bit darker.

One my my life goals is to go visit all the Laura Ingalls Wilder places. I want to wade in Plum Creek! 

I did that way back in 1991.  And I think I did wade in Plum Creek.  I took pictures and drove around that part of the country, and it was fun.

"I also didn't remember Farmer Boy being second in the series. I know that if I did read them as a child, they were read out of order. "

If you take a look at the numbering of the Little House books, Big Woods is number 1, Prairie is number 2, and Farmer Boy is number 3.  I don't know why they're numbered like that because Farmer Boy was written AFTER Big Woods and BEFORE Prairie.

I grew up loving the Little House books and the TV show.  For Christmas, I got myself a copy of Pioneer Girl.

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Maggie Mae

Posted

4 hours ago, fransalley said:

If you take a look at the numbering of the Little House books, Big Woods is number 1, Prairie is number 2, and Farmer Boy is number 3.  I don't know why they're numbered like that because Farmer Boy was written AFTER Big Woods and BEFORE Prairie.

They must of renumbered them, because the kindle series I just bought on Amazon has Farmer's Boy as number 2. I have very vivid recollections of bathtime and food. Makes me want to hurry through Little House in the Big Woods. 

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fransalley

Posted

15 hours ago, Maggie Mae said:

They must of renumbered them, because the kindle series I just bought on Amazon has Farmer's Boy as number 2. I have very vivid recollections of bathtime and food. Makes me want to hurry through Little House in the Big Woods. 

The edition I have has Little House In the Big Woods as #1 and Little House on the Prairie as #2.  They probably did renumber them if your Kindle series has Farmer Boy at #2. 

I've read the Little House books many, many, many times (I was 11 when I got my first set as a Christmas present and I am now 55.)  

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