Little Clearing in the Woods: (Little House Series: The Caroline Years)by Maria D. Wilkes, Dan Andreasen
Meet Caroline Quiner, the little girl who would grow up to be Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother. Caroline and her family are leaving the little town of Brookfield and moving to a new house in a clearing among the big trees of Concord, Wisconsin. As the Quiners travel through the dense forest, Caroline is excited, but she is also a little bit afraid. Will she like her new… See more details below
Meet Caroline Quiner, the little girl who would grow up to be Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother. Caroline and her family are leaving the little town of Brookfield and moving to a new house in a clearing among the big trees of Concord, Wisconsin. As the Quiners travel through the dense forest, Caroline is excited, but she is also a little bit afraid. Will she like her new home in Concord as much as her little house in Brookfield?
Little Clearing in the Woods is the third book in The Caroline Years, an ongoing series about another spirited girl from America's most beloved pioneer family.Caroline and her family must pack up their belongings and say good-bye to all their friends. They are leaving the little town of Brookfield and moving to a new house in the clearing among the big trees of Concord, Wisconsin. As the Quiners travel through the forest towards their new cabin, Caroline is excited, but she is also a little afraid. Will she love her new home in Concord as much as her little house in Brookfield? The adventures of the little girl who would grow up to be Ma Ingalls in the Little House books continue.
Read an Excerpt
I forgot to tell Henry to take my chickens!" Caroline exclaimed. Waiting to climb into Uncle Elisha's wagon with her sisters, Martha and Eliza, she suddenly remembered her hens and whirled around to look for her brother.
"Leave Henry alone," Martha said in her most grown-up ten-year-old voice. "He's busy helping Joseph. And Charlie." Smiling happily, she tied her bonnet stringsrigs. beneath her chin and glanced quickly at the dark-haired boy helping her brothers. "Just think, we'll have two whole weeks with Charlie!" she whispered gleefully.
"I know they're busy," Caroline answered. Looking past Uncle Elisha and the team of oxen he was hitching to his wagon, she watched the flurry of activity taking place in front of the frame house. Her brothers, Joseph and Henry, and their neighbors, Benjamin Carpenter and his son, Charlie, were loading the Quiners' belongings into Mr. Carpenter's wagon. "But what if Henry forget s the hens?" Caroline asked.
"Mother told us to wait by Uncle Elisha's wagon until she comes outside," six-year-old Eliza said primly. Tucking her corncob doll inside her woolen shawl, she added, "She saidnot to bother the boys and Mr. Carpenter, or else.
Ignoring her little sister, Caroline set her schoolbooks and her rag doll, Abigail, beside a wagon wheel, then dashed the short distance across the cold, dewy grass grass to Mr. Carpenter's wagon. "Henry," she cried out breathlessly, "don't forget the hens!"
"Every one of them squawkers is packed already," Henry called out as he swung a hayfilledmattress over the side of Mr. Carpenter's wagon into his older brother's waiting arms. "In case you're wondering, Caroline, I brought the rooster along, too. Any empty space left up there, Joseph?"
Joseph surveyed the sacks, barrels, tables, and trunks piled in front of him. Two reed hampers, tightly packed with clothes, were tucked between Mother's butter churn and the three large barrels that held salt pork, flour, and corn meal. A washtub rested in the center of the wagon, cradling a collection of iron kettles and the leftover beans, peas, and potatoes from last fall's harvest. Beside the tub, four wooden chairs rested upside down on top of a square oak table. "A corner here," Joseph told Henry. "And there's some room on top of these chairs, too. What's left?"
"One crate and a small sack of flour," Henry answered, wiping his sweaty forehead with the back of his arm. "And the stove, of course."
"You didn't pile anything on the hens, did you?" Caroline asked, as she stepped up beside Henry and peered inside the wagon. "They won't like it one bit."
"If you think I want to find a gunny sack full of dead chickens when we get to Concord, you're mighty mistaken, little Brownbraid," Henry said,, rolling his eyes. "Those chickens will be the only food, we'll have to eat for weeks!"
"Don't say that!" Caroline cried. Ever since she was four years old, she had cared for the family's hens, collecting their eggs each morning, feeding them, and, cleaning out their henhouse. Each year shehad even named every one of the birds, and although she knew they weren't pets, she still hated to think about eating them. "And don't call me little Brownbraid, Henry! I'm not little, anymore.
"Eight years old doesn't make you a grown-up," Henry teased. "You have to waittill you're twelve, like. me! Now get back to Uncle Elisha's wagon, Caroline. We're 'bout ready, to go." With a teasing tug at the bottom of his sister's long brown, braid, Henry dashed back into the frame house.
"If I was a grown-up, I'd never go away." Caroline sighed as, she trudged back toward the wagon.
Six months ago, in the midst of the fall harvest, the Quiners had learned they'd have, to leave their home in Brookfield, Wisconsin. The man who owned their homestead had given it to his sister, and Mother needed to find a new place to live. A shiver darted through Caroline as she recalled Mother's reading the awful letter from Michael Woods that told them they'd have to move. It still didn't make sense to her that the little frame house she had lived in all her life could be his, when her father had built it, board by board.
In the first cold days of February, Mother and Uncle Elisha had traveled thirty miles west across a barren, frozen landscape to a little town named Concord. There Mother had purchased forty acres of land. Once the sweet sap began flowing from the maples, Mother had stopped the sewing and mending that kept her busy in the evenings and begun packing the family's belongings. Three weeks later, Uncle Elisha had arrived from Milwaukee in his empty wagon. Friends and neighbors in Brookfield had visited the frame house to say good-bye. Last night, Caroline had said her saddest farewell to her best friend, Anna.A brisk April wind blew through Caroline's coat and brown woolen dress. She looked one more time past the garden and barn to the farthest corners of their land, where the palegreen marshes were spotted with yellow blossoms. Caroline was tempted to gather one last bouquet of the marsh marigolds, but she knew there wasn't time. So she checked off in her mind each of the favorite places she had visited: the barn, the henhouse, the garden, the old oak tree that tapped her bedroom window as she fell asleep on windy nights. Earlier this morning, Caroline had been in such a hurry, she'd hardly had a moment to, feel sad when she said good-bye to each of these places... Little Clearing in the Woods. Copyright � by Maria Wilkes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Maria D. Wilkes first read the Little House books as a young girl and has been fascinated by pioneer history ever since. She did extensive research on the Quiner, Ingalls, and Wilder families, studied original sources and family letters and diaries, and worked in close consultation with several historians and the Laura Ingalls Wilder estate as she wrote the Caroline Years books. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Peter, and her daughters, Grace and Natalie.
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