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LAURA INGALLS WILDER by Ginger Wadsworth


Storyteller of the Prairie

by Ginger Wadsworth

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1997
ISBN: 0-8225-4950-6
Publisher: Lerner

 How can a biographer summarize the early life of Laura Ingalls Wilder without seeming entirely derivative of Laura's own work? Although the first chapters read like summaries of the Little House books, Wadsworth (John Burroughs, The Sage of Slabsides, p. 229, etc.) rises to the challenge, providing background on Charles and Caroline Ingalls, and covering one of the saddest periods in the family's history (which Laura omitted), the death of their nine-month-old baby boy. Wadsworth then chronicles Laura and Almanzo's move to Missouri with their daughter, Rose; the death of their infant son; Rose's far-flung journalistic triumphs; and the close collaboration of mother and daughter, beginning when Laura was 63, that resulted in the original series of books. The use of black-and-white archival photographs and drawings from the series reinforces the notion that a biographer cannot separate most of Laura's life from the stories Laura told--and told better. Further, while Laura is a product of her times, reflected in her views of the Osage Indians (performing ``war chants'' nearby), Wadsworth never shows her as such, lodging herself unwaveringly in Laura's perspective and preserving the image of the harmless, hardworking pioneer to the last. (bibliography, index). (Biography. 8-12)