Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Laura’s Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura’s Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder

William Anderson
For ages 8 to and up
HarperCollins, 1998   ISBN: 978-0060278427

We are all very lucky that one of our greatest writers believed in keeping things. She kept photos, clippings from newspapers, postcards, calling cards, birthday cards, letters, and all sorts of other documents. We are also lucky that other people valued these documents enough to keep them and now some of them have been collected and brought together to produce this book. Arranged in such a way that one feels as if one is looking at a scrapbook, this collection of keepsakes and its accompanying text gives the reader a wonderful picture of the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder, writer, farmer, pioneer, traveler, wife, and mother.

The book begins by setting the scene, telling us about Laura’s maternal and paternal families. It is obvious from the stories of these families, where Pa Ingalls, Ma Ingalls, and Laura herself got their pioneering spirit and their courage. These were families who moved frequently and bore hardship stoically. You can see determination etched on the faces in the photographs.

We then move onto Laura’s family. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to move so many times, starting over again and again. In reality the Ingalls’ moved even more often than Laura describes in her famous books; in reality it was even harder for her father to find a place where he could make a go of it. As we read about these hardships we see old friends from Laura’s books including Pa’s fiddle, the china box that Laura got for Christmas when they lived "On the Banks of Plum Creek."

It is interesting to compare Laura’s real life story with the one she wrote about in her books. There is no doubt that things were probably harder in real life than they were in her marvelous books. The Ingalls family was braver, more courageous than they ever saw themselves as being.

More interesting still is to read on from where Laura’s books ended, to find out what happened to Laura, Almanzo her husband, and Rose their daughter. Life in the Dakota’s became too much for the little family. Disaster after disaster hit them until it was decided that they needed to find a new life somewhere else. In the end the three of them traveled in a covered wagon to Missouri, to the Ozarks and "The Land of the Big Red Apple." It was here, after much hard work, struggle, and determination, that the Wilders got their farm. It was also here that Laura discovered her skill at being a writer.

Superbly presented and highly readable, this is a wonderful tribute to one of America’s foremost authors. William Anderson, who has spent many years researching and writing about Laura Ingalls Wilder, gives us an exceptional picture of Laura, her family, and the world that she lived in. Packed with photographs of all sorts of memorabilia of Laura’s life that are fully annotated this is the perfect book for anyone who has an interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life.