These are companion books for the original Little House books, for the younger ages (approximately 3 to 8 years it says on the back of the books). I personally would pitch them a little younger than that. They are inexpensive (used copies go for about £1 on Amazon) and are the perfect size to be held by little hands. The pages are better than normal quality, so they stand up to rough handling fairly well. Each book is approximately 30 pages long and they are illustrated by Renee Graef (who was inspired by the original illustrator of the Little House books, Garth Williams). The text is adapted from the original text of Laura’s books.
I had a few of these books when my older ones were young and they were always a favourite. In the same way they have a spot in A4’s heart and she takes them into quiet time everyday to try to read herself. They are true treasures of the children’s literature world. Not however for their writing, in my humble opinion, but for their illustrations. They are so sensitively drawn as to pull you into the picture, and you really do feel as if you are there. You can here the lilting musicality of Pa’s fiddle and you unconsciously start tapping your feet along to the silent beat. You want to get up and dance with Laura and can really feel the warmth of the fire. Now I have to admit, that whilst I love words, illustrations affect me in an equally strong way.
The writing here is simple and probably enjoyable for the younger set. I have one beef and that is the use of the word ‘said’ throughout. It is a pet peeve of mine with many children’s books. I don’t enjoy the repetitious ‘he said’ ‘she said’ they said’ whilst reading aloud. The English language, to my mind, is far too rich to need to use the word ‘said’ even once, let alone a multitude of times. This immediately puts me off a book. It shows a dumbing down and lack of imagination. I feel the same way about the Magic House books. Great premise but the constant use of the word said has me cringing and wanting to find another, better written book. However, what the writing lacks, the illustrations more than make up for. My two-year old is entranced by them, pointing out who everyone is and asking about things with which she is unfamiliar. It is said a picture paints a thousand words and in this case it may be even more than a thousand, so good are they!
Would I recommend them?
Yes, I would. The writing is in keeping with the simplicity of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s original text and the illustrations are fabulous. I have five children, and all five love them or have loved them at some point. For our purpose of a summer unit study spanning age 2 -11 they are perfect for including the younger ones and helping them to fully understand what we are doing as a family this summer. For us, they have been a great addition to our summer adventure box.
L10 has her next post up, containing a recipe for Hasty Pudding.