Amazing Books In Which Nothing Much Happens: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. HarperCollins, 1932.
The opening chapter sets the stage in this story of wilderness survival and historical family life. There’s not much character development at first, but amazing detail of living on the rustic frontier pull the reader onward. Really, not much happens at all. Yet when I finished this book, I rushed back to the library to get the rest of the series (though I'd read them as a child as well)! Why did they so capture me?
Some items of note:
- Within the book there are many family stories, which gives a feel of leaving a legacy and adds to the believability of the whole.
- There’s a strong theme of hard work without complaint—such a realistic view of that age (like Sarah Plain and Tall) and unlike a more modern book about times past (thinking of Catherine Called Birdy here) the focus is on the fascinating details of life, even hard life, rather than the whining and “waaah, life is so hard.”
- Devil is in the details: Laura’s character is understated/undeveloped. Or, rather, her person is wrapped up in the goings on of those around her. Very realistic for her age (very little differentiation from parents and home at that point—she really is defined by the goings on around her). I noticed that she changes in subsequent books as she becomes her own person.
- Despite a lack of development, Laura is still lovable. She’s not the “perfect” child (unlike Mary); she has flaws but is still sweet and thoughtful, eager to please.