Channeling Half Pint

May 1, 2011

Does this book’s cover spark a pang of nostalgia?  Did you also spend your early reading years immersed in the adventurous world of Half-Pint? My Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books were the 1971 edition illustrated by Garth Williams and were gifted to me as a boxed set. (Thank you Santa!) I’m typing this with dusty mitts as I was just flipping through the pages of my still treasured collection. Had Santa elected to purchase just a single copy of one of the books it would have set him back $1.50 (or $1.75 in Canada). What has brought Laura out of the cupboard you may wonder … Well there’s a newly released book that takes a fondness for the Ingalls clan to a whole new level …

Wendy McClure, a children’s books editor, also adored the Little House series when a child and returned to them as an adult. The re-reading of the books inspired McClure to launch an exploration of the world of Laura. Her memoir The Wilder Life is described by Indie Bound:

“For anyone who has ever wanted to step into the world of a favorite book, here is a pioneer pilgrimage, a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a hilarious account of butter-churning obsession.

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she’s never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns. Whether she’s churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of “the Laura experience.” Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder’s life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West.

The Wilder Life is a loving, irreverent, spirited tribute to a series of books that have inspired generations of American women. It is also an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened.”

Wendy McClure has written several memoirs and manages humour adeptly. Though my initial thought was uh-oh – a Laura groupie on the loose (You will learn about those in the book too!) I have been impressed by the number of positive reviews. Perhaps I’ll add this to my summer reading list. You?

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