Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote nine Little House books about her childhood growing upon the western frontier. But there were two years she didn't write about, two missing years that take place between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake.
Now, Newbery Award-winning author Cynthia Rylant has imagined what those lost Little House years were like, based on Laura's unpublished memoirs. The result is the first Little House novel about Laura as a young girl in almost 60 years, and a wonderful addition to the classic series.
When the grasshopper plague returns to Plum Creek, Pa knows all the crops will be destroyed again. He decides to take the family east to Burr Oak, Iowa, where he has found work running a hotel. But Laura tongs to return to the tall-grass prairie and the unsettled west, to a place where Pa can play his fiddle in the open air and where she can feel free again.
Old Town in the Green Groves continues the story about Laura Ingalls -- a story whose wonder and adventure have delighted millions of readers.
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Cynthia Rylant's gift for conveying the enchantment and beauty to be found in everyday life is seen in such award-winning books as Missing May, winner of the Newbery Medal; A Fine White Dust, a Newbery Honor Book; and The Relatives Came and When I Was Young in the Mountains, both Caldecott Honor Books.
Books she's written and illustrated include the much-beloved Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven.
Cynthia Rylant grew up in West Virginia. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Jim LaMarche wrote and illustrated The Raft. He also illustrated Little Oh and The Rainbabies, both by Laura Krauss Melmed. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.In His Own Words...
"It's funny how things turn out. I wasn't one of those kids with a clear vision of the future, the ones who know at age five that they will be writers or doctors or artists. I liked to draw, but then, so did most of the kids I knew, and growing up to be an artist never really occurred to me. What I did want to be, in order of preference, was a magician, Davy Crockett, a doctor, a priest (until I found out they couldn't get married), and a downhill ski racer.
"But I always loved to make things, and once I got going on a project I loved, I stuck with it. Once, when I was five or six, I cut a thousand cloth feathers out of an old sheet, which I then attempted to glue to my bony little body. I was sure I could have flown off the back porch if I'd just had a better glue. Another time I dug up some smooth blue-gray clay from the field behind our house, then molded it into an entire zoo, dried the animals in the sun, and painted them as realistically as I could. I made a grotto out of cement, a shoe box, and my fossil collection. I made moccasins out of an old deerhide I found in the basement.
"I grew up in the little Wisconsin town of Kewaskum, the soul of which was the Milwaukee River. In the summer we rafted on it and swam in it. In the winter we skated on it, sometimes traveling miles upriver. In the spring and fall my dad took us on long canoe trips, silently sneaking up on deer, heron, and fields of a thousand Canada geese. And almost all year long we fished for bullheads and northerns from the dam.
"I began college at the University of Wisconsin as a biology major, but somewhere along the line--I'm not sure when or even why--I switched to art, and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in art. I still had no idea of becoming a professional artist, however. In the meantime, I joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, to work with United Tribes of North Dakota creating school curriculum materials. It was a great job. Because there were only a few of us, I was able to try my hand at a little of everything: writing, graphic design, photography, and illustration. It was then that I slowly realized that it might be possible for me to make a living at art. I moved to California, and in the evenings-after working all day as a carpenter's assistant--I put together a portfolio.
"Twenty years later, I'm still here, living in Santa Cruz with my wife, Toni, and our three sons, Mario, Jean-Paul, and Dominic. The Pacific Ocean is only a few blocks away, and the scenery is very different from that of the Midwest, but somehow Kewaskum and the Milwaukee River show up in almost everything I draw. They provided the details of setting for The Rainbabies, Carousel, and Grandmother's Pigeon, and they are the setting for the book I'm working on now, my own story about the magic of a raft.
"I feel very lucky to have ended up as an illustrator of children's books. And maybe that isn't so different from my childhood dream of being a magician after all. Starting with a clean sheet of paper and with nothing up my sleeves, I get to create something that was never there before."From School Library Journal:
Grades 4-6--It is somewhat startling that Rylant should choose to cover a period of time about which Wilder herself chose not to write. Here the Ingalls leave their farm on the banks of Plum Creek to spend several years in Burr Oak, IA. Pa's determination is tested, but his pioneering spirit and hard work coupled with Ma's essential support and unending labor see them through. The death of a new baby who arrives at the opening of the novel is clearly painful to all; a birth near its closure is a reminder that life goes on. After several different homes in Iowa, the family returns to Plum Creek, where Wilder continued the story in By the Shores of Silver Lake (HarperCollins, 1953). LaMarche's illustrations wisely focus more on things than on people, which helps to reduce their incongruity with Garth Williams's drawings. The characters are somewhat different here. Laura seems less of a tomboy and enjoys tea parties and talking about the dolls and rich furnishings of their small-town neighbors. Some of the events match quite closely with known biographical details, while others are definitely fictionalized. Rylant enjoys detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna much more than the original narrator. These small differences will not matter a whit to those insatiable for further Laura stories. For purists who want the classics left alone and are sure Wilder is rolling in her grave, the whole idea is strictly sacrilege. For most everyone else, this is neither a necessary nor valuable addition.
Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description HarperTrophy, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0064409902
Book Description HarperColl, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0064409902
Book Description HarperColl, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110064409902
Book Description HarperColl. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0064409902 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0021363