Laura Ingalls Wilder – Naturalist

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Once upon a time, more than 150 years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. She would grow up to write about the dark Wisconsin forests and the sunny southern prairies, the playful waters of Plum Creek and the glitter of Silver Lake, the heartbreaking dryland farming of Dakota Territory and the bounty of harvests from New York. Everywhere she lived Laura Ingalls Wilder was a keen observer of natural life: dickie birds sing in the tall grasses, rushes squeak besides the creek, buffalo wallows packed with violets fragrance the air. Laura’s world truly comes to life for readers of the Little House series because of her vivid evocations of the landscape surrounding each little house.

In her new book The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marta McDowell, a horticulturist with a particular interest in authors and their gardens, explores the places, gardens, flora and fauna that were part of Laura’s life. From the towering oaks and hickories of Wisconsin to the apple orchards of Missouri, McDowell follows the Ingalls and Wilder families on their frontier journeys. McDowell describes not only the natural world of trees, grasses, plants and wildlife they encountered, but also the crops and gardens the settlers planted. Why was Pa trying to grow wheat among the stumps in the Big Woods? What trees did Almanzo plant on his tree claim? Ground cherries are at last explained!

Beautifully illustrated with original artwork from Garth Williams and Helen Sewell as well as photographs, maps and colored plates, The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder is, to paraphrase Ma, a pleasure to every eye that sees it.

Julie Nelson

Constant reader, book selector, shameless promoter of good reads - these are just a few of the things I do as a Collection Development Professional. I love sharing the hidden gems in our nonfiction collection!