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Laura Ingalls Wilder fans: A letter from Rose to Laura


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I love this! I am waiting very impatiently for The Pioneer Girl Project to be published. Someone is finally typing up and annotating her journals.

http://pioneergirlproject.org/

I'm really excited that you brought this to my attention. I can't wait for this to come out.

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It got to me too! The audience for By the Shores of Silver Lake is late elementary school or early middle school. Who knows how many kids would have been helped or felt less alone if LIW had been able to be honest about what happened? I know that Oprah has spoken about feeling so much less alone after reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou when she was growing up. Another woman -another black girl- had been sexually assaulted as a child. She was not the only one! That knowledge was very empowering.

Whatever faults the TV show might have had it did not shy away from the topic of sexual assault. Does anyone remember the episode where Albert's girlfriend Sylvia is raped? Any gets pregnant, too, IIRC.

Look at the time these books were published. There's no way in hell these books would have gone to press if they were blatant about sexual assault. Keep in mind that in one of the later Anne of Green Gables books, Anne's House of Dreams, LM Montgomery couldn't even say Anne was pregnant. She "shared her joy," and it was all very vague, and the next thing we know, she lost a baby she named Joyce, Joyce as buried, and it was glossed over.

Silver Lake was in 1939, only 22 years later. There's no way in hell sexual assault was allowed in kids' books. There were all kinds of morality issues going on with movies for adults, and things were stricter for kids' shows and kids' books. Kids didn't have rights. What help would there have been at that time for a kid who recognized abuse happening in their lives? Who was there to tell? What would have been done in a time when it was still legal to whip kids who were your property?

The LHotP episodes Sylvia pt1 and pt2 were in 1981, a full 42 years later. Even today, in 2014, that episode is considered shocking. A child was raped!! In a show meant for families! That was a very risky move in 1981, and is still considered one of the scariest moments in a television series.

All things considered, we can't fault LIW and RW for not being more blunt about sexual assault risks and threats in a kids' book published in 1939.

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I thought it was interesting that Rose said that children "nowadays" - meaning the 1930s - were more sheltered and less mature than children in Laura's time, and therefore couldn't deal with the more adult topics.

Everyone loves to point to Little House on the Prairie as a symbol of a simpler, more innocent time, when Rose saw it as just the opposite. The innocence is a result of Rose's editing in the 1930s and 1940s.

I can see her point. In Laura's time, kids had more work earlier, and there weren't big communities, and just plain more danger. By the time the 30's rolled around, kids had less work, has the right to full educations, had laws protecting them better than in her mom's era. In the 1880's, the age of consent for girls was rarely higher than 10 or 12 depending on the age, and it was just 7 in Delaware. By the 1930's, it was 18 (though some states have lowered it to 17 or 16). By no means was it still legal ANYWHERE in the US to have sex with pre-teens under ANY circumstances, or to put them to work in factories, or deny them educations.

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Michael Landon may have skipped the sleigh rides because they taped the show in California ;) That's just my guess.

I picked up on the vibe of feeling unsafe when I read Silverlake. I was in high school, IIRC. It was pinging my alarms big time. I don't recall finishing the book.

I picked up on it loud and clear as a child, and as an adult, picked up on Caroline's fear and the risks she took.

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I picked up on it loud and clear as a child, and as an adult, picked up on Caroline's fear and the risks she took.

I too picked up on many more things re-reading them as an adult. Like Ma's fear when they lived near the railroad on Silver Lake and how she did not want any of the girls going anywhere near there.

I realize that not all all men are lust-driven rapists as the fundies do, but I would have been very nervous when Pa was not around. I do wonder if she kept the shotgun loaded.

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For the LIW fans, there's going to be a free online course this fall.

Pamela Smith Hill, English faculty at Missouri State University, will begin a free online course "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Her Work and Writing Life" on Sept. 22, and she will offer another course on Wilder's later works in early 2015, according to a release from the university.

(snippity snipping for brevity)Hill grew up approximately 45 miles from Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in Mansfield, Mo., and she — an aspiring author herself — was fascinated with the idea of a successful writer being from her own area of the world.

"I'd always thought writers were from New York or New England; I had no idea that someone who wrote books could live and work in the Missouri Ozarks. The Little House books inspired me to keep writing," she said in the release. "When I moved to South Dakota, where Wilder set five of her novels, I began to appreciate more keenly the depth of Wilder's craft and her achievement in American children's literature."

The course will explore Wilder's writing life and the first four books in the Little House series, and more specifically, the relationship between Wilder's personal life and her fiction. Hill also hopes to answer many questions about the qualities that make Wilder's work stand the test of time.

Go to outreach.missouristate.edu/180450.htm to enroll. Anyone can register. You don not need to be a student at MSU. The online course is free and does not provide college credit. Interested participants can enroll at any point during the eight weeks of the class. Participants will need access to several of Wilder's books, which may be available at local libraries.

From http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/l ... /13003547/ (Springfield News-Leader, which limits the number of free articles you can look at). There's a related interview with the professor at http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/l ... %271%27%5D

This looks pretty interesting, I may have to sign up.

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For the LIW fans, there's going to be a free online course this fall.

From http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/l ... /13003547/ (Springfield News-Leader, which limits the number of free articles you can look at). There's a related interview with the professor at http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/l ... %271%27%5D

This looks pretty interesting, I may have to sign up.

Someone also posted this in the Snark Forum, and quite a few of us are signing up. It sounds very interesting. It is really dorky how excited I am about it.

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Laura's ordeal? Can someone explain this? My interpretation from the manuscript was that Laura was warned not to go down by the railroadmen by Pa as to not get assaulted, not that she had been.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I never read these books until the age of 25, when a friend from out west introduced me. I want the series for myself SO BAD. Can't bring myself to buy it on Amazon tho...

If you don't mind used, check out half.com. I buy all of my coveted but ridiculously expensive books there :D . Here's a link: search.half.ebay.com/Little%20House%20on%20the%20Prairie_W0QQmZbooks

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