I’ve read a lot of books in my lifetime. So many that I sometimes have a hard time remembering them all. There are a few books I’ve read more than once, but none as many times as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. And very few that I’ve treasured quite as much.
I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I received the complete boxed set for Christmas, though I know it was well before the television series came into being. I’m guessing I was 9 or 10, and I have to say that, even today, those books hold their place as one of my favorite gifts ever. I still have that set, and still re-read them every few years. Those stories have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.
So it was no surprise that when I heard that Laura’s original manuscript (which served as the basis for what would later become the younger-audience series) was going to be published, I was thrilled.
My mother-in-law ordered a copy of Pioneer Girl for me for Christmas, and it was on back-order for months (how could the publishers not have guessed how popular this book would be?). But finally, just a few days ago, my copy arrived. And it’s every bit as fascinating as I’d hoped it would be.
There has been a bit of controversy about how much Laura’s daughter, Rose, edited and/or wrote of the autobiography, or the series that came later. After reading the introduction, it seems that Rose did do a fairly extensive edit and re-write of Pioneer Girl and tried hard to get that version published, but it never happened. The story that has been published, finally after all these years, is Laura’s original version, with footnotes added in about the changes that took place in Rose’s manuscript, as well as the filling-in of historical fact and data. And it would seem that Laura did indeed write the Little House series herself, though perhaps no one will ever know how heavy-handed Rose’s editing was.
In truth, it doesn’t really matter to me how the stories made it to the page, they will always be the stories I grew up with.
And they will always be just as alive to me as they were the first time I read them.
And that is the magic of a good book.
Secretly, I’m almost glad that it’s still a little bit snowy and that it’s going to be cold again this weekend. Cold enough for reading in front of the fire.
Because I’ve got this book to finish.