Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Journey’s Across America

A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Journey’s Across America

Laura Ingalls Wilder
For ages 12 and up
HarperCollins, 2006   ISBN: 978-0060724917

In the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder many of us have followed the adventures and misadventures of the Ingalls family as they traveled from their little cabin in the Wisconsin woods to their claim out on the Dakota prairies. Many of us are under the impression that Laura’s adventures and travels ended when she married Almanzo Wilder and settled on a farm outside the town of De Smet, South Dakota. In fact Laura and Almanzo had many hard years ahead of them. They had to face drought, a fire, illness, tragedy, and financial difficulties. Finally in 1894, they decided to leave the prairie. Their chosen destination was Missouri, “The Land of the Big Red Apple.”

In “On the Way Home” Laura describes the six hundred and fifty mile journey that she made with Alamanzo and their little daughter Rose, who was just seven years old at the time. They traveled in a covered wagon with all their worldly possessions and at the end of it they came to Mansfield, Missouri where they bought some land. This land would become Laura and Alamanzo’s Rocky Ridge Farm, their home for the rest of their lives.

“West from Home” is an account of a journey which forty-eight year old Laura made when she went to San Francisco in 1915 to visit her daughter Rose. San Francisco was hosting the World Fair that year and it was too good an opportunity to miss. Laura went alone, writing letters to her “Manly Dear” at every opportunity so that he could share the journey with her through her words.

Finally, in 1931, Laura and Manly and their dog Nero took a journey to the Dakotas. It was their first time back in forty years and now, instead of traveling in a covered wagon, they drove to De Smet in their 1923 Buick. In “The Road Back” Laura describes this journey, giving us a picture of how much had changed since their trip in 1894. Carefully she keeps accounts of their expenditures and describes the places where they stay and the people that they meet. Laura sees her sisters Grace and Carrie and visits the places which played such an important role in her life when she was growing up.

In this special omnibus edition, the publisher of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings have brought together two of her shorter books “On the Way Home” and “West from Home” with the new and previously unpublished “The Road Back.” Filled with period black and white photographs, this collection will give readers a splendid picture of what Laura was like ‘in real life,’ her unaffected voice reaching out to us across the years. We notice how she describes the weather and crops a great deal, which is not surprising considering she was the daughter and wife of farmers. We notice too how close she is to her husband and how much she misses him when they are apart.

Liberally sprinkled with background material provided by Laura’s daughter Rose, Rose’s friend Roger Lee McBride, and Roger’s daughter Abigail, this book is sure to delight Little House fans of all ages.