Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

3.7 110
by Wendy McClure

See All Formats & Editions

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder—a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she’s never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family— looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum


Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder—a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she’s never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family— looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House—exploring the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns. Whether she’s churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of “the Laura experience.” The result is an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones—and find that our old love has only deepened.

Editorial Reviews

Like many other girls growing up in suburban Illinois, Wendy McClure fantasized that she was actually sharing the little prairie homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder. As an adult, she followed that dream in ways by becoming a busy children's book editor, but in this loving pilgrimage of a memoir, she goes even further, indulging her fascination and love for The Little House on the Prairie by seeking out its continuing presence in the lives of readers. These "snapshots from a Little House life" have been described as "deeply human, darkly hilarious" and imbued with a touch "as light as Max's best biscuits, but the results still sticks to your ribs." A Discover Great New Writers selection; now in a trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Edward Ash-Milby

You need not have been an obsessive fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder in order to appreciate McClure's memoir The Wilder Life— because, really, she's not just talking about this one series, but about the magic childhood books can hold throughout one's life...Breezy and funny and fun.
"[The Wilder Life] has the power to charm even those who shudder at the thought of gingham, calving or salt pork.…McClure's touch is as light as Ma's best biscuits, but the result still sticks to your ribs."--( Laura Miller)
The A.V. Club
Even for people who've never read Laura Ingalls Wilder's work, The Wilder Life is an insightful, entertaining look at our relationship with pop culture, how it changes from youth to adulthood, how it intersects with the real world, and how other people relate to the personal things we love.
NPR "What We're Reading" blog
Deeply human, darkly hilarious… an entertaining and touching book — and an essential for Little House fans.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Fans of the ‘Little House' series will eat up this book like a hot Johnny cake, and well they should, because McClure highlights that intangible something about the series that strikes a deep chord in even the most casual reader.
Boston Globe
Highly engaging, often hilarious book. . . the author's pilgrimage arrives at what feels like well-earned literary nostalgia.
Kirkus Reviews

BUST magazine columnist and children's-book editor McClure (I'm Not the New Me, 2005, etc.) takes an engaging road trip in search of a remembered "Laura World."

"I was born in 1867 in a log cabin in Wisconsin and maybe you were, too." Like millions of other young readers, mostly girls, the author had lived the dream and then—possibly impelled by the disappointing way the series peters out—moved on. Hoping to recapture the magic after glimpsing that world years later in a re-reading Little House in the Big Woods (1932), McClure checks out the LHOP canon's continuing role in online communities, lines of commercial products, the perpetually-in-syndication TV series and a steady stream of literary and other cultural spinoffs. The author also tries her hand at butter churning and farm cookery, and sets out with an obliging companion on a Midwestern pilgrimage. McClure presents a merry travelogue that features stops at Pepin, Wisc. (where Wilder was born), Rocky Ridge Farm (where she died) and most of the other widely scattered sites the peripatetic Ingalls clan set down in between, as well as meetings with fellow pilgrims, a wade in Plum Creek, a weekend at a self-sufficient farm (made scary by a group of "end times" survivalists) and even a later jaunt to the upstate New York farm where Wilder's husband Almanzo grew up. McClure also ruminates on the qualities that give Wilder's fictionalized but oh-so-evocative memoirs their enduring appeal. In the end, she moves on once again—coming to recognize the beguiling joy and simplicity of Laura World, but at a slight remove brought on by years and other experiences.

Many others have made the same pilgrimage, but not, perhaps, with such a winning mix of humor and painless introspection.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Alison Arngrim
"A howlingly funny, historically thorough and irresistibly mad trip down the rabbit hole of the Laura Ingalls-Little House obsession that has consumed an entire generation of women. I spent seven years on the prairie and this book made me want to run out and buy a butter churn! Mandatory reading for all “bonnetheads” - and the people who love them!" --( Alison Arngrim, TV's Nellie Oleson and New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of A Prairie Bitch)

Meet the Author

Wendy McClure has been writing about her obsessions both online and in print for nearly a decade. In addition to her 2005 memoir, I’m Not the New Me, she is a columnist for BUST Magazine and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine. McClure holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Chicago, where she is senior editor at the children’s book publisher Albert Whitman & Company.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Subtitled: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie. When I saw The Wilder Life, I just knew I had to read it. I used to bicycle down to the Byron Library once a week and pester Miss Spicer for her next book recommendation. I had finished all of The Borrowers (I really wanted to live in their little mouse world) when she recommended Little House in the Big Woods. Well, I fell in love with this series and the whole kit and caboodle. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. So did Wendy McClure. McClure's parents are moving, so Wendy comes over to help with their garage sale. She comes upon her childhood copy of Little House in the Big Woods. Rereading it brings it all back... "...I wanted to live in one room with my whole family and have a pathetic corncob doll all my own. I wanted to wear a calico sunbonnet - or rather, I wanted to not wear a calico sunbonnet, the way Laura did, letting it hang down her back by its ties. I wanted to do chores because of those books. Carry water, churn butter, make headcheese. I wanted dead rabbits brought home for supper. I wanted to go out into the backyard and just, I don't know, grab stuff off trees, or uproot things from the ground, and bring it all inside in a basket and have my parents say "My land! What a harvest!" And so begins the exploration of all things Laura - Laura world as she comes to call it. McClure tries all the things she wanted to do -churning butter, making by pouring syrup in the snow, reproducing recipes and more. She tracks down everything ever written about the Ingalls/Wilders, in print, on the Internet and finally in person. McClure (often with her boyfriend Chris) retraces the journeys of the Ingalls family, visits the homesteads and museums and meets others who love Laura as much as she does. (and some who are downright obsessive) It was fascinating to learn more about the 'real' Laura and the life and inspiration behind the books. Wendy McClure is an excellent writer. Her introspective search for Laura is told with charm and much humour. I found myself laughing out loud many times. I too found myself wondering what is is that attracted us as children to the books and stayed with us as adults. "I considered this as I stared up at the ceiling of our tent. Who knew how many times those books made me idly wish for a now other than the one I was in, that the world would somehow crack open and reveal a simpler life?" You don't need to be a Laura fan to enjoy The Wilder Life, but you'll definitely close the last page as a Wendy McClure fan. A memoir that kept me engaged from first page to last.
MattCH More than 1 year ago
The description of this book reads: "story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened" and this couldn't be more true. The Wilder Life is a compelling read that will resonate with anyone who read through the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child, potentially looking to better understand the world where they lived by contrasting it with a world gone by... only to return as an adult in an even more confusing world to remember reading about a simpler world during a simpler time in one's own life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up reading the Little House books and wanting to live Laura's life. Following the author on her 'pilgrimage' made me laugh and cry, at times. Her approach to the deeper sense of meaning the Little House books had for her was touching and accessible.
Doreen McKenna More than 1 year ago
A perfect book for all ages and I am only 9 and watch the movies and read the books they are all good this book is perfect for your child to read and it will teach your child about the olden days too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love little house books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the idea of the book and her writing style. Her adventures are entertaining and mostly informative, but abou 3/4 of the way through the book, it seemd to lose steam and meander away from where it was headed at the beginning. It has some info about Laura in real life and a lot about obscure bits of the book and out of the way sites, but this is really about one person and her interaction with the text.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fresh and enlightening! A must read for any Little House fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the julia child book/movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the author I loved the Little House books and reading about her journey through "Laura's World" was fun and somehow nostalgic and at times touching.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im only nine and i enjoyed these books when i was very young love them
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a little underwhelmed by this book, however it was fun to discuss with the other ladies in my bookclub. I definitely wanted to finish the book, but it wasn't what I expected from reading the description. I did enjoy the author's unique writing style (very personable). I found the first half of the book sort of nerve-wracking to read because the author is *so* obsessed that it comes off as manic and just downright stressful. The second half of the book lost that manic feel though, and was more enjoyable to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friends, and I, loved the Little House on the Prairie books and the show.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a huge fan of the Little House books as a child, so much so that my parents took us on trips to visit all of the real life locations, so I was excited to hear about this book and couldn't wait to read it. Some of it I liked quite a lot. But what was up with the author's problem with Christians and Faith? She seemed to really have an issue with it and that really distracted me while reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If im allowed to i would like to have the apprentice name of firepaw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A slim, dark ginger cat approach the camp with a wary expression. Ears flickering to and fro, desperately searching for sounds of current life. "Hello," the she-cat whispered softly, tail brushing the ground with light, flittering sweeps bordering on the movement of cautious. "Lilywolf? Goldenstripe? It's me, Amberst-" she quickly corrects herself, "Amberleaf." She meowed with finality. ~Amberleaf
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello. I'm not inactive, I'm on about everyday pretty much, but I share a nook acount with both my brother and younger sister, Goldenstripe and Redspirit. So when they post for their cats my posts go away. Goldenstripe is the deputy, and the meetings are always on Tuesdays so just wait a little bit longer while I get everything together. We are moving camp and I've been working on something else so I'm a little held up. I need everyone to head to 'Cat Dance' result one and read my post. I'm still setting up the dens but y'all can start getting ready for the meeting. Also, Golsenstripe posted, and my kits can feel free to respond but everyone else, if you do respond you can't find Goldenstripe and make him come back, he's supposed to be gone already. Thanks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am rebuilding Ashclan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yawned and started padding to the fresh kill pile
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Orngemist respond
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is like a double result for me...can finally rp diff cats... and lol Comet....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could this be the clan he was looking for? Maybe. He took the shivering kit and padded away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He nods not knowing who the Amberleaf or Whitetail are. (Gtg bbl)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I posted at our book, Rae.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ran around in enthusiastic circles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hemlockpaw sat and surveyed the ruined camp, his eyes confused. PaleSky paced nervously, wondering if they would be accepted. <p> [ Whwre does one post a bio? ]