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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The Little House on the Prairie series, featuring the frontier life of young Laura Ingalls Wilder, has been providing enjoyment to readers for decades. But there is a short period in Wilder's life between 1875 and 1877 that has never been addressed. In the original series, the family moves from Plum Creek straight to Silver Lake, ignoring the two years the Ingallses spent living in a small town in Iowa. Now fans can fill in that gap, thanks to Newbery Awardwinning author Cynthia Rylant, who has crafted a story covering these missing years with the help of notes penned by Wilder herself.
At the start of the story, young Laura is eight years old and living with her two sisters and her parents in a rented house in Walnut Grove. They've come here, leaving their beloved Plum Creek home behind, to weather out the winter after an infestation of grasshoppers wiped out all their crops. Their homesickness is mitigated by a surprise visit from the stork, which gives the Ingallses their first son. Little Charles Frederick adds new life to the family in more ways than one, but it's a short-lived reprieve, for little Freddie proves to be a sickly child.
Tragedy seems a way of life for the Ingallses when they finally return to Plum Creek. First Ma takes ill and comes close to dying, then the family is driven away from their home once again by a crop-destroying infestation of grasshoppers. Forced to head south to Iowa, the family stops to spend the summer with relatives. While there they relish a bounty of family and food, but they also suffer tragedy when young Freddie finally succumbs. Upon reaching their destination in Iowa, life takes a decidedly different turn for this frontier family when they find themselves living and working in a hotel.
Fans of the Little House stories should find Rylant's work a welcome addition to the series. Writing with a loving feel for home and family, Rylant evokes the same indomitable spirit and sense of adventure that Wilder herself did. (Beth Amos)