A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America
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A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Laura Ingalls Wilder crossed the country by covered wagon, by train, and by car. Here, Laura's journal entries and letters from three of her most memorable journeys have been collected in one volume. On the Way Home recounts her 1894 move with her daughter, Rose, and her husband, Almanzo, from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, where Laura would live for


Laura Ingalls Wilder crossed the country by covered wagon, by train, and by car. Here, Laura's journal entries and letters from three of her most memorable journeys have been collected in one volume. On the Way Home recounts her 1894 move with her daughter, Rose, and her husband, Almanzo, from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, where Laura would live for the rest of her life. In West From Home, Laura wrote letters to Almanzo about her adventures as she traveled to California in 1915 to visit Rose. Finally, The Road Back tells the story of Laura and Almanzo's first trip back to DeSmet in 1931, the town where Laura grew up and where she fell in love with Almanzo.

Laura's candid sense of humor and keen eye for observation shine in this wonderful collection of writings about the many places she called home.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kristi Bernard
The writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder have sparked the interest of readers who are eager to learn about life on the prairie during the 1800s for a long time now. This newest addition offers readers new entries as well as her travels and adventures. The extras in the back of the book include Laura's Family Tree, Letters to Laura and Laura's Final Letter to Rose. If readers are introduced to Laura for the first time this collection is an excellent way to learn about this remarkable young girl and her life's journey. Pictures and photos of actual letters will keep readers turning pages to reveal history in the making. It will answer all questions about what it must have been like to group up in the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. This is not just a book for younger readers; adults will enjoy this page turner as well. This is a good time for families to sit down and discuss their own history and enlighten young readers. Reviewer: Kristi Bernard
Publishers Weekly
Laura Ingalls Wilder fans will welcome A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America. The first two books in this compendium were previously published: On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 (originally published in 1962); and West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915 (1974). The third, however, is new to print: The Road Back: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Record of the Journey Back to De Smet, South Dakota, 1931. In her brief introduction, Abigail MacBride (daughter of Roger MacBride, adopted grandson of Rose Wilder Lane) explains that this correspondence charts Laura and Almanzo's return to the home they had left nearly 40 years earlier. Records of expenses, photos and Wilder's clipped, conversational observations bring a vitality to this Depression-era journey. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Little House fans will rejoice at this newest installment of Laura's chronicles of her life. Collected together for the first time here are "On the Way Home," Laura's travel diary about the Wilders' move from De Smet, South Dakota, to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, with additional material from Rose Wilder Lane; "West from Home," Laura's letters and postcards to Almanzo from her trip to visit Rose in San Francisco in 1915 and attend the Panama-Pacific Exposition; and "The Road Back," Laura's never-before-published travel diary from her trip back to South Dakota to visit Grace and Carrie in 1931. The two diaries are fairly terse and pedestrian, but it is interesting to see how Laura's observations invariably focus on land prices and crop conditions, and to compare the journey away from De Smet by horse and wagon with the poignant trip home again almost forty years later by car. The letters to "Manly" from San Francisco, in contrast, are full of the sparkling detail and deep affection that mark the Little House books. It is easy to imagine Laura, now middle-aged, reveling in a boat ride on the bay to see the sunset: "The wind was driving the spray and fog in my face and the boat would rise and swoop and fall under my feet and it was glorious." Glorious for us, as well, to be there with Laura, riveted by every cherished glimpse of what the rest of Laura's life turned out to be. 2006, HarperCollins, Ages 10 up.
—Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
The first sections of this collection of the travel writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder contain previously published material: On the Way Home, a journal record of the Wilder family's journey from South Dakota to Missouri in 1894, and West From Home, letters written by Wilder to her husband while she was visiting San Francisco in 1915. The last section of the book, The Road Back Home, is a previously unpublished journal kept by Laura when she and Almanzo traveled back to De Smet, South Dakota (the Little Town on the Prairie), together for the first time in 1931, thirty-seven years after moving to Mansfield, Missouri. As with the journal entries of On the Way Home, the author conserves her words and is just as concerned with mileage and expenses as with description or reflection. Description of the town of De Smet is disappointingly scarce, and familiar people from De Smet are not put into the context of the Little House books through footnotes or an editor's note. Descriptions of tourist sites visited during the trip are more extensive, and these passages provide an interesting portrait of travel before air conditioning and modern roads, hotels, and restaurants. Young fans of Wilder will likely find her travel writings tedious, as the voice is much more mature and practical than the young, mischievous Laura of the Little House books. Those interested in the real life behind the books, however, will find all the travel writings included here fascinating. It is a must-buy for libraries that do not own the two previous published works and worth consideration even by those that do. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest inthe subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, HarperCollins, 352p.; Photos., Ages 11 to 18.
—Anita Beaman

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Little House Nonfiction Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
11 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

A Little House Traveler

Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America
By Laura Wilder

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Laura Wilder
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060724919

Chapter One

For seven years there had been too little rain. The prairies were dust. Day after day, summer after summer, the scorching winds blew the dust and the sun was brassy in a yellow sky. Crop after crop failed. Again and again the barren land had to be mortgaged, for taxes and food and next year's seed. The agony of hope ended when there was no harvest and no more credit, no money to pay interest and taxes; the banker took the land. Then the bank failed.

In the seventh year a mysterious catastrophe occurred worldwide -- all banks failed. From coast to coast the factories shut down, and business ceased. This was a Panic.

It was not a depression. The year was 1893, when no one had heard of depressions. Everyone knew about Panics; there had been Panics in 1797, 1820, 1835, 1857, 1873. A Panic was nothing new to Grandpa, he had seen them before; this one was no worse than usual, he said, and nothing like as bad as the wartime. Now we were all safe in our beds, nobody was rampaging but Coxey's armies.*

All the way from California Coxey's Armies of Unemployed were seizing the railroad trains, jam-packing the cars and running them full speed, open throttle, hell-for-leather toward Washington. They came roaring into the towns, yelling "Justice for the Working Man!" and stopped and swarmed out, demanding plenty to eat and three days' rations to take with them, or they'd burn the town. People gave them everything to get rid of them. In all the cities Federal troops were guarding the Government's buildings.

I was seven years old and in the Second Reader at school but I had read the Third Reader and the Fourth, and Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels. The Chicago Inter-Ocean came every week and after the grown-ups had read it, I did. I did not understand all of it, but I read it.

It said that east of the Miss-issippi there were no trains on the railroad tracks. The dispatchers had dispatched every train to the faraway East to keep them safe from Coxey's Armies. So now the Armies were disbanded and walking on foot toward Washington, robbing and raiding and stealing and begging for food as they went.

For a long time I had been living with Grandpa and Grandma and the aunts in De Smet because nobody knew what would become of my father and mother. Only God knew. They had diff-theer-eeah; a hard word and dreadful. I did not know what it was exactly, only that it was big and black and it meant that I might never see my father and mother again.

Then my father, man-like, would not listen to reason and stay in bed. Grandma almost scolded about that, to the aunts. Bound and determined to get out and take care of the stock, he was. And for working too hard too soon, he was "stricken." Now he would be bed-ridden all his days, and what would Laura do, my family wondered. With me on her hands, besides.

But when I saw my father again he was walking, slowly. He limped through the rest of his ninety years and was never as strong as he had been, but he was walking.

We lived then in our own house in De Smet, away from Main Street, where only a footpath went through the short brown grasses. It was a big rented house and empty. Upstairs and down it was dark and full of stealthy little sounds at night, but then the lamp was lit in the kitchen, where we lived. Our cookstove and table and chairs were there; the bed was in an empty room and at bedtime my trundle bed was brought into the warmth from the cookstove. We were camping, my mother said; wasn't it fun? I knew she wanted me to say yes, so I did. To me, everything was simply what it was.

I was going to school while my father and mother worked. Reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, penmanship filled days almost unbearably happy with achievements satisfying Miss Barrows's strict standards. "Procrastination is the thief of time," I wrote twenty times in my penmanship book, without error or blot; and "Evil communications corrupt good manners," and "Sweet are the uses of adversity," every t and d exactly twice as tall as a vowel and every l exactly three times as tall; every t crossed; every i dotted.

All the way home down the long board walk in late afternoons we diligent scholars warmly remembered our adored Miss Barrows's grave, "Well done," and often we sang a rollicking song. It was the song of those days, heard more often than Ta-ra-ra boom-de-ay. My aunt Grace, a jolly big girl, often sang it, sometimes my mother did, and nearly all the time you could hear some man or boy whistling it.

O Dakota land, sweet Dakota land,
As on thy burning soil I stand
And look away across the plains
I wonder why it never rains,
Till Gabriel blows his trumpet sound
And says the rain has gone around.
We don't live here, we only stay
'Cause we're too poor to get away.

My mother did not have to go out to work; she was married, my father was the provider. He got a day's work here and there; he could drive a team, he could carpenter, or paint, or spell a storekeeper at dinner-time, and once he was on a jury, downtown. My mother and I slept at Grandma's then, every night; the jury was kept under lock and key and my father could not come home. But he got his keep and two dollars every day for five straight weeks and he brought back all that money.

My mother worked to save. She sewed at the dressmaker's from six o'clock to six o'clock every day but Sunday and then came home to get supper. I had peeled the potatoes thin and set the table. I was not allowed to touch the stove. One day my mother made sixty good firm buttonholes in one hour, sixty minutes; nobody else could work so well, so fast. And every day, six days a week, she earned a dollar.


Excerpted from A Little House Traveler by Laura Wilder Copyright © 2006 by Laura Wilder. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957) was born in a log cabin in the Wisconsin woods. With her family, she pioneered throughout America’s heartland during the 1870s and 1880s, finally settling in Dakota Territory. She married Almanzo Wilder in 1885; their only daughter, Rose, was born the following year. The Wilders moved to Rocky Ridge Farm at Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, where they established a permanent home. After years of farming, Laura wrote the first of her beloved Little House books in 1932. The nine Little House books are international classics. Her writings live on into the twenty-first century as America’s quintessential pioneer story.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 7, 1867
Date of Death:
February 10, 1957
Place of Birth:
Pepin, Wisconsin
Place of Death:
Mansfield, Missouri

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