I've never read any of the Little House on the Prairie books or even been drawn to them to tell you the truth. And that's why the first time I saw this book, Little Heathens, Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, I returned it to shelf. It looked too little housish.
A couple weeks later I picked it up again though. It was on sale as a benefit to our local library; for two dollars. I bought it. From the introduction I was interested and became more so with each successive story. I liked the author's, Mildred Armstrong Kalish's, voice. She tells her story of growing up during the depression honestly, not making it more or less than what it was.
Each chapter could be read without the others although I kept wanting more. There's a chapter about farm food, one on chores, another on outhouses, gardening, animal tales, gathering wood. There's humor, heart, courage; there's inspiration to be a better person.
My favorite chapter was about medicine. For cuts the kids knew to get cobwebs from the barn and wrap them over it; exactly like the tales from my Grandparents. There's also stories of curing warts that defies logic. I've witnessed this remedy, which made it even more fun to see it in print, though it's still unbelievable.
I enjoyed the stories of foraging, the relationships with the animals, the landscape, the seasons. The way everyone intimately knew where their food came from. It was a different time; not to be romanticized, but full of wisdom that I'm glad is not forgotten but skillfully put into print.
I give this book four out of five stars for its inherent adherence to sustainability. And I'd recommend it to Little House lovers as well as those that get hives just considering the prairie.
This is an enjoyable and thought provoking fast read. Perfect for a long holiday weekend.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
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Wonderful review. :) I didn't know of your aversion to the Little House books, so I'm really glad you enjoyed this one! JAM is right -- it's a grown-up Little House book.
Ha, I LOVED the Little House books. Sounds like this is one for me. :) Thanks for the review.
I am a new reader of this blog and really enjoy it. I don't have much time to read right now with a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old but I'm hoping to get more time in the next few months. I LOVE books and thoroughly enjoy reading your book reviews. And I, too, loved Little House and all historical fiction so I will be reading this as soon as I get a chance.
The author is able to look at a very difficult time both economically and personally with a lot of warmth and fondness.
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