Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

On the Banks of Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Illustrator:   Garth Williams 
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 8 and up
HarperCollins, 2008   ISBN: 978-0064400046

It was hard to leave the house Pa had built on the prairie, and when Laura sees her new home she can hardly believe her eyes. Laura, her sisters and her parents are going to live underground in a sod house on the banks of Plum Creek. With grass growing over their heads and walls of earth, this is the strangest house Laura has lived in so far, but it is snug and she loves to hear and watch the creek running by. There are so many new things to see and to look at and so many new places to explore.

Perhaps the biggest adventure Laura and her sister Mary have to deal with is going to school for the first time. They now live close enough to a town that the girls can walk to school each day. At first Laura is nervous as she knows that she is different from the town girls, but she soon settles in and makes friends. She also makes an enemy or two as well, and at the top of her list of unpleasant people is Nellie Olsen, a spoiled child who treats Laura very badly indeed

One day Pa surprises the whole family when he comes home with a wagon load of lumber. He builds a beautiful new house for them all, one with machine-made windows and doors. He has bought the lumber on credit with the expectation that their wheat harvest will be large enough to pay the bill come harvest time. Then, just when the wheat is almost ready, a terrible cloud arrives and covers the land, a cloud of grasshoppers that will take away all of Pa’s hopes.

In this continuing story of young Laura Ingalls and her family, readers will truly come to see how hard it was to build a new life on the frontier. So much depended on how kind Mother Nature was to the people living on the plains. Drought, a plague of locusts, and a terrible winter storm made life very hard indeed for Laura’s family. And yet, despite the hardships and setbacks, they survived and kept on going. They did without new shoes and clothes, and they even did without many of the foodstuffs that we could not possibly manage without today, living off the land as best they could. Young readers will be amazed to hear how Laura and her sister shared a book and a slate at school, and how they had to stay home from school because they had to make their shoes last longer. They will come to appreciate how brave and tough the pioneer families had to be to survive.