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Farmer Boy (Little House Series: Classic Stories #2)

Farmer Boy (Little House Series: Classic Stories #2)

4.7 41
by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams (Illustrator)

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While Laura Ingalls grows up on the western prairie, a boy named Almanzo Wilder is living on a farm in New York State. Here Almanzo and his brother and sisters help with the summer planting and fall harvest. In winter there is wood to be chopped and great slabs of ice to be cut from the river and stored. Time for fun comes when the jolly tin peddler visits, or best of


While Laura Ingalls grows up on the western prairie, a boy named Almanzo Wilder is living on a farm in New York State. Here Almanzo and his brother and sisters help with the summer planting and fall harvest. In winter there is wood to be chopped and great slabs of ice to be cut from the river and stored. Time for fun comes when the jolly tin peddler visits, or best of all, when the country fair comes to town.

This is Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved story of how her husband Almanzo grew up as a farmer boy far from the little house where Laura lived. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America's frontier past and a heart-warming, unforgettable story.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
If you picked up this book expecting to learn more about the pioneering adventures of the Ingalls family, you won't find it here. This story is about Almanzo Wilder, who as a young man will marry Laura Ingalls, but for now is a boy growing up on a large farm in New York. While his older brother, Royal, can't wait to move to the city and begin life as a shopkeeper or clerk, Almanzo loves the farm, and can't imagine any other life but farming. He especially loves the horses and desperately wants a colt of his own. But before he can have one he must prove he is ready for the responsibility. This book is rich in details about farm life in the late 1800s. Leather for boots, tallow for candles, fat for soap, and of course, meat for the dinner table, all come from the Wilders' slaughtered cattle. Not even the tiniest part is wasted. It puts our current throwaway society to shame. Wilder describes in great detail the process Almanzo uses in completing his chores, so readers can feel that they are making candles, growing a prize-winning pumpkin, or helping with the sheep shearing right along with him. Part of the "Little House" series, this book is not only enjoyable, but it would make a great addition to a classroom discussion of America's frontier past. 2003 (orig. 1933), Avon Books/Harper Collins Publishers,
— Pat Trattles <%ISBN%>0060522380

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Little House Series
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.24(h) x 1.09(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

School Days

It was January in northern New York State, sixty-seven years ago. Snow lay deep everywhere. It loaded the bare limbs of oaks and maples and beeches, it bent the green boughs of cedars and spruces down into the drifts. Billows of snow covered the fields and the stone fences.

Down a long road through the woods a little boy trudged to school, with his big brother Royal and his two sisters, Eliza Jane and Alice. Royal was thirteen years old, Eliza Jane was twelve, and Alice was ten. Almanzo was the youngest of all, and this was his first going-to-school, because he was not quite nine years old.

He had to walk fast to keep up with the others, and he had to carry the dinner-pail.

"Royal ought to carry it," he said. "He's bigger than I be."

Royal strode ahead, big and manly in boots, and Eliza Jane said:

"No, 'Manzo. It's your turn to carry it now, because you're the littlest."

Eliza Jane was bossy. She always knew what was best to do, and she made Almanzo, and Alice do it.

Almanzo hurried behind Royal, and Alice hurried behind Eliza Jane, in the deep paths made by bobsled runners. On each side the soft snow was piled high. The road went down a long slope, then it crossed a little bridge and went on for a mile through the frozen woods to the schoolhouse.

The cold nipped Almanzo's eyelids and numbed his nose, but inside his good woolen clothes he was warm. They were all made from the wool of his father's sheep. His underwear was creamy white, but Mother had dyed the wool for his outside clothes.

Butternut hulls had dyed the thread for his coat and his long trousers. Then Mother had woven it, andshe had soaked and shrunk the cloth into heavy, thick fullcloth. Not wind nor cold nor even a drenching rain could go through the good fullcloth that Mother made.

For Almanzo's waist she had dyed fine wool as red as a cherry, and she had woven a soft, thin cloth. It was light and warm and beautifully red.

Almanzo's long brown pants buttoned to his red waist with a row of bright brass buttons, all around his middle. The waist's collar buttoned snugly up to his chin, and so did his long coat of brown fullcloth. Mother had made his cap of the same brown fullcloth, with cozy ear-flaps that tied under his chin. And his red mittens were on a string that went up the sleeves of his coat and across the back of his neck. That was so he couldn't lose them.

He wore one pair of socks pulled snug over the legs of his underdrawers, and another pair outside the legs of his long brown pants, and he wore moccasins. They were exactly like the moccasins, that Indians wore.

Girls tied heavy veils over their faces when they went out in winter. But Almanzo was a boy, and his face was out in the frosty air. His cheeks were red as apples and his nose was redder than a cherry, and after he had walked a mile and a half he was glad to see the schoolhouse.

It stood lonely in the frozen woods, at the foot of Hardscrabble Hill. Smoke was rising from the chimney, and the teacher had shoveled a path through the snowdrifts to the door. Five big boys were scuffling in the deep snow by the path.

Almanzo was frightened when he saw them. Royal pretended not to be afraid, but he was. They were the big boys from Hardscrabble Settlement, and everybody was afraid of them.

They smashed little boys' sleds, for fun. They'd catch a little boy and swing him by his legs, then let him go headfirst into the deep snow.

Sometimes they made two little boys fight each other, though the little boys didn't want to fight and begged to be let off.

These big boys were sixteen or seventeen years old and they came to school only in the middle of the winter term. They came to thrash the teacher and break up the school. They boasted that no teacher could finish the winter term in that school, and no teacher ever had.

This year the teacher was a slim, pale young man. His name was Mr. Corse. He was gentle and patient, and never whipped little boys because they forgot how to spell a word. Almanzo felt sick inside when he thought how the big boys would beat Mr. Corse. Mr. Corse wasn't big enough to fight them.

There was a hush in the schoolhouse and you could hear the noise the big boys were making outside. The other pupils stood whispering together by the big stove in the middle of the room. Mr. Corse sat at his desk. One thin cheek rested on his slim hand and he was reading a book. He looked up and said pleasantly:

"Good morning."

Royal and Eliza Jane and Alice answered him politely, but Almanzo did not say anything. He stood by the desk, looking at Mr. Corse. Mr. Corse smiled at him and said:

"Do you know I'm going home with you tonight?" Almanzo was too troubled to answer. "Yes," Mr. Corse said. "It's your father's turn."

Every family in the district boarded the teacher for two weeks. He went from farm to farm till he had stayed two weeks at each one. Then he closed school for that term.

When he said this, Mr. Corse rapped on his desk with his ruler; it was time for school to begin. All the boys and girls went to their seats. The girls sat on the left side of the room and boys sat on the right side, with the big stove and wood-box in the middle between them. The big ones sat in the back, seats, the middle-sized ones in the middle seats, and the little ones in the front seats. All the seats were the same size. The big boys could hardly get their knees under their desks, and the little boys couldn't rest their feet on the floor.

Farmer Boy. Copyright © by Laura Wilder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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.

Garth Williams's classic illustrations for the Little House books caused Laura to remark that she "and her folks live again in these pictures." Garth Williams also illustrated Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and almost one hundred other books.

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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Farmer Boy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder seiris. I don't know if Farmer Boy is my favorite book; but it's a good read full of laughs, belive me! RebekahRater
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
Almanzo Wilder is a farmer, who wants to be just as hard a worker as his father is. He helps his family by working with their crops of hay, selling the potatoes, hoeing carrots, planting corn &amp; pumpkins, and picking berries. He learns how to do everything else on the farm too, like dealing with the sheep &amp; pigs, to training the young oxen &amp; horses, to gathering the sap from the trees. Almanzo also does things that other children do, like going to school, or sledding on a winter day, and sometimes he gets in trouble, whether he's in it by himself or with his older brother &amp; sisters. There's usually something exciting going on, like the County Fair, or a holiday like Independence Day. When Mother &amp; Father leave for a few days, what do you think the children do in their absence? He's a hungry growing boy and it seems that the Wilder's table is always overflowing with good home-cooked food, so there's plenty, even for Almanzo's very large appetite. &quot;Farmer Boy&quot; is the third book in the &quot;Little House&quot; series, but since Almanzo's story isn't connected to the other stories in the series, you can read this book at any time, even if you haven't read any of the other books. A few years ago, my family read this book aloud, and I've read it again myself since then. I enjoy reading the &quot;Little House&quot; books, and this one is a definite favorite. I think anyone, boys or girls, would like reading this story.
Mom-in-NY More than 1 year ago
I bought this book to read with my 5 year old son who loves learning about what life was like in the past (especially during 'pioneer' times). We visited the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY this past summer and he relates much of what he saw there to Almanzo's life. He has very little difficulty reading this book, but prefers to hear me read it to him. Some parts have been very excting, and others are a little more harsh than I had originally wanted to discuss with him (the death of a past school teacher being beaten to death by an unruly group of students---don't worry this info does not spoil any part of the book ¿), but he is very mature for his five years and has been able to deal with it. We are loving this book so far....I would highly recommend this book to any child interested in learning about life in the late 1800's or agriculture/ growing up on a farm.
MamaFoxHF More than 1 year ago
I have 3 boys ages 8, 9 1/2 and 11 1/2 and last summer we read some of Farmer Boy. We would start our reading time with 3 boys but my youngest was not yet old enough to sit still and listen through a whole chapter and so not everyone heard all of the chapters. Without full participation, my commitment faltered and we ended up not finishing the book. This summer the boys asked if Farmer Boy could be our Summer Bedtime Book again, so I gave it another try. After they are in their PJs, they all bring their pillows, fuzzy blankets and bean bags into the living room and we usually make it through a couple of chapters in an evening. We often stop to talk about vocabulary words to make sure that everyone is learning new words as well as understanding the words in the context that they are used (like "gay" means "happy" in this book.) My boys love their Wii, TV and Nintendo DSs, however this book can keep their attention beautifully! What I love the most are the memories that I am making with my boys. So the other day I came up with the idea of buying them each their own copy of Farmer Boy (the copy that I have been reading out of is my yellowed, tattered paperback copy that was printed in 1971.) With each copy, I will write them each a note to help them remember our fun Farmer Boy reading time during the summer of 2010. I will place the 3 copies with their notes in my hope chest and give the books to them when they each become fathers. Though far from Super Mom, sometimes when I do nurturing or fun things with my boys I tell them, "Promise me that you will do this with your children some day." I do hope that they remember and continue with this great tradition of reading to their kids! Now go read to your kids, grandchildren or even your spouse, it really is a fun way to bond!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think this is the best Laura Inglles Wilder EVER wrote. it's become my favorite book i've read for years!
Anonymous 3 months ago
I love the part when........... there are too many good parts i can count on one finger
Anonymous 11 months ago
This is the best thing ever happening!+++++9,0000000% asome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gtgtb but come back tomorrow fam!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I was in third grade my teacher read almost all of them I think,I like when the teacher whipped Bill Richy!! I love Laura's books!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think you would love it nomatter how you would read it
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HistorymanPWM More than 1 year ago
Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Farmer Boy" is a wonderful story. A break in the Little House series, it tells the story of the boyhood of Mrs. Wilder's husband, Almanzo. It makes excellent reading for adults as well as children, and keeps alive the tradition, knowledge and lore of hands-on farming. Who today would think of saving potatoes from frost by pouring water on the plants before the sun can hit them? Who today grasps the notion that draft animals need to be trained with love and (unending) patience? But more than this, it's also the story of a boy being raised to understand his world and his place in it. Being raised in a time when children are meant to be seen and not heard, Almanzo nevertheless has ample opportunity to observe his elders, to ask questions, and even express his own opinion. The way his father teaches him the value of money is both striking and deep. It's especially significant today, when children do not work, and have little or no grasp on what money and the things it buys are worth. Furthermore, it is a snapshot of life in America at a time before living memory. Mrs. Wilder herself espoused the belief that in order to understand where one is going, he/she needs to understand where he/she came from. Anyone who wants to understand where America came from has to read "Farmer Boy." It is not about key events, significant dates or wars. Rather, it is about people; how they lived, how they worked, what they did for fun and what their values were. These are things are real history, and need to be both preserved and savored. Mrs. Wilder's books preserve them. Reading the books allows us to savor them, as well as learn from them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BasketladyKA More than 1 year ago
I should have read this book as a child, but somehow I missed it. Farmer Boy is a must for all children and parents to read. The first time I read this was when I used to read to my young children before they went to sleep each night. Farmer Boy was a favorite with all of them and they learned many good lessons from it. Of my five children, two of them now have children old enough to read on their own. It doesn't surprise me that they are reading (along with the help of their parents) Farmer Boy and the other books in the wonderful series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this series for my grandaughter because I enjoyed it so much as a child. My daughter also enjoyed it and now her daughter does too. This is semi-biographical and historical, written in beautiful prose for all ages. In our busy materialistic society, it is good to be reminded of how these pioneers in early America had so little and lived honestly and could be appreciative and happy. The Wilder books are universally appealing.