Sarah Miller Revisits Caroline Ingalls

Coming in September 2017: Caroline: Little House, Revisited, an adult novel that reimagines Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie from the perspective of Laura’s mother, Caroline Ingalls. From the HarperCollins website:

In this novel authorized by the Little House estate, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

More information on this new book will be posted as it becomes available!

Some Things Nancy Tystad Koupal Learned

pioneer-girl-perspectives_frontcoverForgot to mention in my post yesterday on the sesquicentenary of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birth a fascinating blog post by Nancy Tystad Koupal, published two days ago on the website for the Pioneer Girl Project and entitled “Some Things I Learned While Editing Pioneer Girl Perspectives.” Of the things Koupal mentions, the one I’m most curious about is the fact that “Rose Wilder Lane had an FBI file.”

What kind of information was in that file? Perhaps we’ll find out when Koupal’s collection of essays, Pioneer Girl Perspectives, is published this spring by South Dakota Historical Society Press.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Sesquicentenary

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born one hundred and fifty years ago today, on 7 February 1867. In celebration of the sesquicentenary of her birth, Wilder’s longtime publisher, HarperCollins, releases today new unjacketed hardcover editions of Little House in the Big WoodsFarmer Boy, and Little House on the Prairie, both individually and as a box set. As I’ve noted about these editions already, they omit Garth Williams’s iconic illustrations but include new introductions by Laura Bush, Ree Drummond, and Patricia MacLachlan.

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Also being released today is the paperback edition of The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by William Anderson, which is a really engrossing read, by the way. Online vendors are listing the new edition of The Little House Book of Wisdom as being delayed by a few weeks, but I did get notification just now that the copy I’d ordered is on its way to me.

Finally, just wanted to draw your attention to a witty Twitter account that announced this morning a set of birthday plans for Wilder’s sesquicentenary:

And so, happy birthday, Laura! And happy birthday, Mrs. Wilder!

UPDATE: Also, Maria Russo’s New York Times article “Finding America, Both Red and Blue, in the ‘Little House’ Books,” published today, provides a timely and nuanced reading of Wilder’s complicated legacy in American culture and beyond, including the elements that act as “one giant hushing of Native American history.” I teach Little House on the Prairie at the university level not in spite of those elements, but because it is important to understand how the books offer readers a view of American society that both includes and excludes.

Announcing Pioneer Girl Perspectives

pioneer-girl-perspectives_frontcoverThe website for The Pioneer Girl Project posted a major update today announcing the forthcoming publication, in May 2017 and by South Dakota Historical Society Press, of an exciting new collection of essays entitled Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Nancy Tystad Koupal.

As someone who has followed Ingalls Wilder Lane scholarship for well over a decade (and who has made a few modest contributions to the discussion so far), I am thrilled to see these authors take such bold, new approaches to Wilder’s work, especially in light of the recent publication of Wilder’s original first-person memoir.

Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder takes a serious look at Wilder’s working life and at circumstances that developed her points of view. Along the way, authors William T. Anderson, Caroline Fraser, Michael Patrick Hearn, Elizabeth Jameson, Sallie Ketcham, Amy Mattson Lauters, John E. Miller, Paula M. Nelson, and Ann Romines explore the relationship between Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, as well as their path to the Little House novels. Editor Nancy Tystad Koupal also includes an interview with Little House Heritage Trust representative Noel Silverman, who has worked with Wilder’s works for over forty-five years, and annotates Wilder’s 1937 speech about the Little House series given at the Detroit book fair.

This rich source book from these Wilder scholars from across North America will also explore, among other topics, the interplay of folklore in the Little House novels, women’s place on the American frontier, Rose Wilder Lane’s writing career, the strange episode of the Benders in Kansas, Wilder’s midwestern identity, and society’s ideas of childhood.

Animal Adventures and Other Updates

HarperCollins has just released cover art for its reissue of Animal Adventures, the third volume in the Little House Chapter Books series of abridgments that was first published in the late 1990s. This book is scheduled for publication in June 2017, following the reissue of The Adventures of Laura and Jack and Pioneer Sisters in February, as I reported a few months ago. I’m also seeing pre-orders for further reissues in this series: Laura and Nellie in August, Christmas Stories in September, and School Days in December. That makes me wonder if HarperCollins will reissue only these five books, given that School Days was first published as book 4, Laura and Nellie as book 5, and Christmas Stories as book 10, and presumably they will be renumbered for this new set. Time will tell!

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Given this revival of the Little House Chapter Books series, I wondered if HarperCollins had planned to reissue some of the My First Little House picture books that were first released alongside the Chapter Books. Cover art has not been released yet, but appearing now on the HarperCollins website is a book entitled A Little House Picture Book Treasury: Six Stories of Life on the Prairie, scheduled for publication in September 2017 and apparently containing the following texts first released individually: Going to TownCountry FairA Little Prairie HouseSugar SnowWinter Days in the Big Woods, and Christmas in the Big Woods. No word yet on whether Renée Graef’s illustrations will be retained.

In other news, Caroline Fraser, who published an annotated edition of Wilder’s nine books in the Library of America series, will be publishing a new book in November 2017 entitled Prairie Fires: The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder, billed as “the first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie book series”:

Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls—the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true story of her life has never been fully told. The Little House books were not only fictionalized but brilliantly edited, a profound act of myth-making and self-transformation. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser—the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series—masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books and uncovering the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life.

More news on this book—including cover art—once it becomes available.

Marta McDowell’s A Wilder World

Marta McDowell’s A Wilder World has just become available for pre-order on Amazon.com! The book is scheduled for publication by Timber Press in September 2017.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series chronicled frontier life in the late 1860s. The classic books are both a coming of age story based on Wilder’s life and a reflection of the pioneer spirit of the time. They are also deeply rooted in the natural world. The plants, animals, and landscapes are so integral to the stories, they almost become their own characters. A Wilder World, by New York Times bestselling author Marta McDowell, beautifully explores Laura Ingalls Wilder’s deep relationship to the landscape and illuminates a crucial aspect of the pioneer experience. Featuring the original art by Helen Sewell and Garth Williams and historical and contemporary photographs, A Wilder World is a must-read companion to the Little House books and a must-have treasure for the millions of readers enchanted by Laura’s wild and beautiful life.

I will post cover art and further information about this upcoming book once it becomes available.

New Little House Editions in German

Recently, while looking for British editions of the Little House books, I came across this new set of German editions of six of the books by Ueberreuter, all under the title Unsere kleine Farm (“Our Little Farm”), which was also the German title of the Little House on the Prairie television series.

Included in this set are books with the following subtitles:

  • Laura im großen Wald (“Laura in the Big Forest”)
  • Laura in der Prärie (“Laura in the Prairie”)
  • Laura und ihre Freunde (“Laura and Her Friends”)
  • Laura am Silbersee (“Laura at Silver Lake”)
  • Laura und der lange Winter (“Laura and the Long Winter”)
  • Laura in der kleinen Stadt (“Laura in the Small Town”)

Not included in this set are Farmer BoyThese Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years, even though they have translated into German before.