Today’s review is on Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Little House on the Prairie follows the Ingalls family as they leave their little house in the woods of Wisconsin – which were starting to get over crowded – for the prairie lands of Kansas, also referred to as Indian country in the book (Yes, it’s not politically correct, but this a historical fiction novel that is discussing a part of history that happened from the perspective of one party, and it doesn’t try to sugarcoat the not-so-good parts of this history). Unlike the first book, which was more of a series of vignettes, this installment is more linear when it comes to its storyline.
Once they find a piece of land, we get a detailed account of Pa making the house, we are also introduced to Mr. Edwards, who is an interesting and quirky character.
I love some of the descriptions that appear throughout the book, especially this particular one that describes early evening on the prairie, “Outside, and far, far away to the pink edge of the sky, the wind went blowing and the wild grasses waved” (119). It sounds so peaceful and serene.
Throughout the book we see the inquisitiveness of a child through both Laura and Mary as they explore the area surrounding their new home. We also see that life on the prairies isn’t all pleasant when there is a mosquito infestation at the end of the summer and most of the Ingalls get malaria. Through this incident we are introduced to Dr. Tan, and African-American doctor who takes care of the Ingalls, as well as the other settlers and Mrs. Scott. I wish that we got to know Dr. Tan more, but I also understand why he only makes a brief appearance. I also loved how Mrs. Scott blames the watermelon growing at the bottom of the creek , but it makes sense because as the author states, “No one knew in those days that fever ‘n’ ague was malaria, and that some mosquitoes give it to people when they bite them” (198).
Overall, I enjoyed rereading this book. While it does contain prejudice towards Native Americans, I think it is important to remember that this is an accurate portrayal of what the settlers thought during that time period. I do like how towards the end we do see Pa learn to respect the Native Americans a lot more, as well as start to change some of his views that he previously held to. While reading about this subject matter might be jarring to the modern reader, we need to realize that these attitudes are apart of American history, even though they are wrong. We should use literature like this to remind ourselves as to why prejudice and racism are bad, as well as some of the more horrific parts of our history – instead of trying to rid ourselves of it. Plus there is more to this book besides its references to Native Americans, it is also a book about a family learning to live in a new place and survive with the little that they have. 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.