Hard Times on the Prairie (Little House Chapter Book Series: The Laura Years #8)

Overview

Gentle adaptations of Laura Ingalls Wilder's celebrated Little House stories have been gathered together here in two new titles in our Little House Chapter Book series.Frontier life wasn't always easy, and in Hard Times on the Prairie, Laura and her family struggle against prairie fires, grasshoppers, and winter blizzards. But with their fighting pioneer spirit, the Ingalls family always manages to make it through the hardest of hard times.In Little House Farm Days, Laura has to do her part to help run the ...
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Overview

Gentle adaptations of Laura Ingalls Wilder's celebrated Little House stories have been gathered together here in two new titles in our Little House Chapter Book series.Frontier life wasn't always easy, and in Hard Times on the Prairie, Laura and her family struggle against prairie fires, grasshoppers, and winter blizzards. But with their fighting pioneer spirit, the Ingalls family always manages to make it through the hardest of hard times.In Little House Farm Days, Laura has to do her part to help run the Ingalls family farm. From helping Pa smoke meat to planting seeds and making cheese with Ma, Laura is a big help. Pa doesn't know what he'd do without her!With simple text, entertaining stories, and Renee Graef's beautiful black-and-white artwork, Little House Chapter Books are the perfect way to introduce beginning chapter book readers to the world of Little House.

Author Biography: Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the log cabin described in Little House in the Big Woods. As her classic Little House books tell us, she and her family traveled by covered wagon across the Midwest. She and her husband, Almanzo Wilder, made their own covered-wagon trip with their daughter, Rose, to Mansfield, Missouri. There Laura wrote her story in the Little House books, and lived until she was ninety years old. For millions of readers, however, she lives forever as the little pioneer girl in the beloved Little House books.

Laura and her pioneer family struggle against hardships on the Kansas frontier, including a prairie fire, a grasshopper invasion, and a blizzard.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kristin Harris
As a diehard devotee of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, I have a fundamental problem with them being cut up and adapted. This series is supposedly for those not quite ready for the "Little House" novels. The vocabulary may be slightly watered down, but the subjects of a home being threatened by fire and an invasion of grasshoppers seem inappropriate subject matter for kids who aren't ready for the whole story, as it was meant to be told. The Ingalls' fight fires and grasshoppers and Laura almost drowns. This is hard times on the prairie. A paper doll of Laura is included.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064420778
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/31/1998
  • Series: Little House Series: The Laura Years , #8
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 80
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 550L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the log cabin described in Little House in the Big Woods. She and her family traveled by covered wagon across the Midwest. Later, Laura and her husband, Almanzo Wilder, made their own covered-wagon trip with their daughter, Rose, to Mansfield, Missouri. There, believing in the importance of knowing where you began in order to appreciate how far you've come, Laura wrote about her childhood growing up on the American frontier. For millions of readers Laura lives on forever as the little pioneer girl in the beloved Little House books.

Renée Graef received her bachelor's degree in art from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is the illustrator of numerous titles in the Little House publishing program, as well as Rodgers and Hammerstein's My Favorite Things and E.T.A Hoffman's The Nutcracker, adapted by Janet Schulman. She lives in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, with her husband and two children.

Biography

"I wanted the children now to understand more about the beginnings of things, to know what is behind the things they see -- what it is that made America as they know it," Laura Ingalls Wilder once said. Wilder was born in 1867, more than 60 years before she began writing her autobiographical fiction, and had witnessed the transformation of the American frontier from a barely populated patchwork of homestead lots to a bustling society of towns, trains and telephones.

Early pictures of Laura Ingalls show a young woman in a buttoned, stiff-collared dress, but there's nothing prim or quaint about the childhood she memorialized in her Little House books. Along with the expected privations of prairie life, the Ingalls family faced droughts, fires, blizzards, bears and grasshopper plagues. Although she didn't graduate from high school, Wilder had enough schooling to get a teaching license, and took her first teaching job at the age of 15.

Later, Wilder and her husband settled on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks, where Wilder began writing about farm life for newspapers and magazines. She didn't try her hand at books until 1930, when she started chronicling her childhood at the urging of her daughter Rose. Her first effort at an autobiography, Pioneer Girl, failed to find a publisher, but it spurred a second effort, a set of eight "historical novels," as Wilder called them, based on her own life.

Little House in the Big Woods (1932) was an instant hit. It was followed by a new volume every two years or so, and the series' success snowballed until thousands of fans were waiting eagerly for each new installment. "Ms. Wilder has caught the very essence of pioneer life, the satisfaction of hard work, the thrill of accomplishment, safety and comfort made possible through resourcefulness and exertion," said the New York Times review of Little House on the Prairie (1935).

In 1954, the American Library Association established the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to honor the lifetime achievement of a children's author or illustrator; Wilder herself was the first recipient. After Wilder's death in 1957, historical societies sprang up to preserve what they could of her childhood homes, and her manuscripts and journals provided the material for several more books. A TV series based on the books, Little House on the Prairie, ran from 1974 to 1984 and renewed interest in Wilder's work and life. More recently, fictionalized biographies of her daughter, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother have appeared.

Wilder's books have now been translated into over 40 languages, and still provide an engrossing history lesson for young readers, as well as insight into the frontier values that Wilder once catalogued as "courage, self-reliance, independence, integrity and helpfulness" -- values, in her words, worth "as much today as they ever were to help us over the rough places."

Good To Know

Wilder's daughter, the writer Rose Wilder Lane, helped revise her mother's books; the collaboration was so extensive that one biographer proposed Rose was the "real" author of the Little House books. Most agree that Rose was, if not author or co-author, instrumental in suggesting the project to her mother and shaping it for publication.

After her books were published, fan mail for Wilder poured in; among more than a thousand cards and gifts she received for her birthday in 1951 was a cablegram of congratulations from General Douglas MacArthur.

Wilder, who had grown up making long journeys by covered wagon, took her first airplane ride at the age of 87, on a visit to Rose in Danbury, Connecticut.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Mrs. A.J. Wilder
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 7, 1867
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pepin, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Death:
      February 10, 1957
    2. Place of Death:
      Mansfield, Missouri

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Fire

Spring had come to the Kansas prairie. The air was fresh and crisp. Big white clouds floated in the clear sky. When the prairie was this bright and friendly, it was hard for Laura to remember that there had ever been bad times.

Laura loved her new home on the prairie. Her family had moved there last summer. Laura and her Ma and Pa, and her two sisters, Mary and Carrie, had traveled in a covered wagon all the way from Wisconsin to Kansas.

The trip had been long and tiring. And when they had finally reached the spot that Pa said would be their new home, things hadn't been much easier. The whole family had gotten sick, and a wolf pack had prowled the area all winter. There had been some truly scary moments.

But now the prairie was warm and sunny and sweet. Perhaps the hard times were over.

Pa was out working in the fields. The ground was choked with dry, dead grass. Pa had to plow up all that dead grass before he could plant his crops.

Laura and her big sister, Mary, were in the log cabin helping Ma make dinner. Baby Carrie was playing on the floor in the sunshine. Suddenly the sunshine went away.

Ma looked out the window.

"I do believe it is going to storm," she said.

Laura looked, too. Huge black clouds were rising up from the south and covering the sun.

Pet and Patty, Pa's horses, came running in from the field. They pulled the heavy plow behind them. Pa hung on to the plow with all his might, bounding in great leaps to keep up with the horses.

"Prairie fire!" he shouted.

Laura swallowed hard. Fire!

Pa was still shouting. "Get the tub full of water! Putsacks in it! Hurry!"

Ma ran to the well, and Laura dragged the washtub over. Pa hurried to put the cow and calf into the stable. He came out with an armful of old sacks and flung them on the ground.

Laura snatched up the sacks and took them to Ma at the well. Ma was pulling up buckets of water as fast as she could. The sky was black now. It was as dark as night.

Pa ran back to the plow. He shouted at Pet and Patty to make them hurry. He wanted to plow a ditch around the house. If the ditch was wide enough, the fire wouldn't be able to jump over it and reach the house.

But there wasn't enough time. Pa plowed a long furrow around three sides of the house. Then he tied Pet and Patty to the far corner.

"I couldn't plow but one furrow," he panted. "Hurry, Caroline. That fire's coming faster than a horse can run."

The tub was almost full of water. Laura helped Ma push the sacks under the water to soak them.

Rabbits were leaping past them as if they weren't even there. One big rabbit jumped right over the washtub. Ma told Laura to stay by the house. Pa and Ma lifted the heavy tub and carried it to the furrow Pa had plowed.

From the house Laura could see the red fire coming under billows of smoke. More rabbits went bounding by. They paid no attention to Jack, the bulldog. Jack didn't even try to chase them. He just crowded close to Laura and whined.

The wind was rising. The smoke blew closer. Thousands of birds flew ahead of the fire. Thousands of rabbits were running. All the prairie animals were trying to get away from the fire.

Pa was going along the furrow he had plowed, setting fire to the grass on the other side. He was making a little fire to keep the big fire away from the house. Ma followed him- with a wet sack. She beat at the flames that tried to cross the furrow.

Soon Pa's little fire was all around the house. He helped Ma fight it with wet sacks. They mustn't let any of those little flames jump over the ditch to the house side. Whenever a flame got across the furrow, Pa and Ma stamped on it with their feet. They ran back and forth in the smoke, fighting the fire.

The big prairie fire was roaring closer. Huge flames flared and twisted high. The rolling black smoke clouds glowed red above the wall of fire. The flames were moving across the prairie, right toward the house.

Laura and Mary stood against the house and trembled. Baby Carrie was inside. Laura wanted to do something, but there was nothing to do. Her eyes stung from the smoke.

Jack howled. The horses squealed with fright. They jerked and pulled at their ropes. Firelight flickered over the grass and the house and the horses.

Pa's little fire had made a burned black strip. Slowly the little fire crawled to meet the racing big fire. And suddenly the big fire swallowed the little one.

The wind rose to a high, rushing wail. Flames climbed into the crackling air. Fire was all around the house.

Then it was over.

The fire went roaring past the house and away across the prairie. There were little flames here and there in the yard. But Ma and Pa beat them out with wet sacks.

When all the flames were out, Ma came to the house to wash her hands. She was streaked with smoke and sweat. But she said there was nothing to worry about now.

"The little fire saved us," she said. "All's well that ends well."

The air smelled scorched. As far as Laura could see, the prairie was burned and black. Ashes blew on the wind. Smoke rose from the scorched grasses. Everything felt different.

But Pa and Ma were cheerful. The fire was gone, and it had not done them any harm. It had not missed them by much, Pa said, but a miss was as good as a mile.

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