Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Welcome Back, Old Friend

Old Town in the Green Groves:  Laura Ingalls Wilder's Lost Little House Years by Cynthia Rylant

A Modern Classic

I can think of no better author than Cynthia Rylant to take on this daunting task: to write the story that is missing from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Series.  There is some part of her life that Wilder never wrote about and Rylant tackles it here, fitting this story between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake.  Rylant and Wilder have such similar writing styles that it felt as if I were reading Wilder again, visiting a long lost, but reclaimed, old friend.

The story concerns the missing years when the Ingalls family lost their farm and had to move around, finally landing in a town at a hotel as workers.  It was a dark time for the family, a time they all hated, which is perhaps by Wilder never chose to write about it.  The story also covers the death of Wilder's only brother, Micheal, who died as a baby and is scarcely mentioned elsewhere.

It was a bittersweet read for me.  So sweet because it called to mind reading that favorite series as a girl, and yet sad, too, to know this wasn't my familiar friend.  Sad, also, to see how the Ingalls family suffered so.  Reading this book was really like pulling a favorite old sweater around me, wrapping up and snuggling down for a quick, warm read.  It is wonderful, but short, and fully deserving to sit on the bookshelf between the other Little House classics.

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