So. The kids got a set of Little House books for Christmas. I started reading them out loud to the kids right after we got them, and have been doing a chapter (or two...or three) every night since. We're up to These Happy Golden Years, the last book that Laura Ingalls Wilder had fully finished (The First Four Years were a first draft/outline that she hadn't fleshed out and added to).
The kids are loving the books.
And so am I.
I will admit this is my first re-read of the series in about...twenty, twenty-five years (yes, I am that old). I am very familiar with them, because prior to hitting nominal adulthood, I had read them multiple times. Re-reading them now, as an adult, several things have stood out.
Charles Ingalls...was an idiot where money was concerned. He borrowed more than he could pay back if things didn't go exactly perfect. And he did it more than once. One time, he was counting on a crop...that got eaten by...well, locusts.* Another time, his crop was eaten in the seed stage by gophers. A third by corvids (which they ended up eating). One time could be due to inexperience, but over and over like that?
Yikes. Reminds me of a lot of stupid financial behavior we see even today, with student loan debt plus a car payment plus credit cards blocking people out of being able to afford to live.
Caroline Ingalls...was a pretentious snob. Mary was a spoiled brat (so was Grace, the youngest, but there were extenuating circumstances--she was born the same year their boy died at a year old). And Carrie...poor little Carrie. I think she may have had a heart condition, possibly caused by the same illness that sent Mary blind.
And Almanzo Wilder had decided to court Laura Ingalls when she was not quite fifteen. And watching him actually do so--the way he sorta just...showed up, and kept showing up and keeping her company...she never saw it coming until she'd fallen head over heels. Sneaky-like, but not dishonorable-sneaky. Really cute.
Another thing I'd noticed, this time through...the Wilder family was far better off, financially, than the Ingalls family was, as both of them grew up. That was not something I'd noticed, the first several times I read through the books.
Recently, the book award for young readers named after Laura Ingalls Wilder was...yeah, not gonna be named after her anymore. They say it's because the books are racist.
They aren't. Not for the time. They're an accurate depiction of the time, including the dangers posed by the native tribes, and the fear many held for them. And in Little House on the Prairie (yes, Indian Territory in Oklahoma, by the Verdigris River), they were in significant danger from the natives. And the...interactions (some friendly, some decidedly not) were honestly shown, and to be honest, the fear that Caroline held was very much warranted. So was, in a lot of ways, her disgust: I really doubt anyone would appreciate men wearing nothing more than newly-cured skunk-skins in their vicinity.
All in all, though, the books absolutely stand up under the tests of time. They are fully as good as I remember them being (if not better). And I am already looking for a hardcover set for myself.
*Yes, the book called them grasshoppers, but the description was of locusts.