To retell the Story that Laura Ingalls Wilder tells so resonantly in the ""Little House"" books would seem on the face of it a pointless exercise; and the present account reads more like a juvenile, in the pejorative sense, than the original. ""Through all the years Pa was chasing cows in the hills of New York State. . . a little girl [Ma] was growing up in another part of pioneer America. She would know hard times and she would know good times; she would know sweet music from a honey-brown fiddle."" But lo and behold, Laura is only one-and-a-half when the Ingalls leave the little house in the big woods to homestead on the prairie; she cannot have remembered that landmarked journey, or grieved for the lost dog, Jack, or thought of turning him loose on the Indians. With family stories as a guide, she made it up. And after losing the little prairie house, the Ingalls did not head for the banks of Plum Creek, they returned to the big woods; and from Plum Creek they backtracked again, to a place never mentioned in the books, Burr Oak, Iowa, where Pa managed a hotel and the family lived next to a saloon. What emerges is a life story more vagrant and various, and considerably more troubled, than that portrayed in the classic volumes, and one that is not so patently the American pioneer ideal. Though few will take kindly to the bluebonnet prose, there is evidence here for students of literature and history to consider.