The Wilder Life


I love Little House on the Prairie (both the books and the show) with a love that is almost unnatural. Some people might even say obsessive. Although I really don't think there's anything that unusual about it. It's perfectly normal to dress up like Laura Ingalls Wilder for Halloween. And who hasn't carved a pumpkin that looks like Laura at some point in their life. And hasn't everyone built a replica of the town of Walnut Grove out of Popsicle sticks at least once. And didn't we all annoy the crap out of our parents and siblings by forcing them to listening to endless fun facts about the show and the books? Show of hands?

What's that you say? No one has ever done anything like that ever. Okay, fine. Maybe I love Little House with a love that is totally unnatural.

I'm always excited to run across another person whose love of Little House on the Prairie drives them to do things the rest of the world might find odd. In A Wilder Life Wendy McClure immerses herself in the world of Little House; baking bread, turning butter, visiting the various places the Ingalls family lived. And I enjoyed every minute of reading about her experiences. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that even a person who doesn't love the Little House books as much as I do would enjoy this book (although my credibility was probably completely shot when I told you about the Popsicle stick version of Walnut Grove.)

I even learned things that I never knew before, and normally I can out-Little-House-trivia everyone I come in contact with. Fun facts from the book:

1. Vanity Cakes, a food mentioned throughout the Little House books, are made using 1 to 2 pounds of lard. Eeeewwww. I think we could actually file that one under disgusting facts.

2. There was a roller skating rink in Desmet, South Dakota, or to quote Wendy McClure, "Laura once ditched school to go skating at the roller rink in De Smet (the fact that there even was a roller rink in De Smet blew my mind a little; how did the town progress so quickly from nearly starving to death over the winter to building teen hangouts?)" Oh Wendy, you really can turn a phrase, can't you.

3. That the name of the town is actually spelled De Smet and not Desmet as I've been spelling it all these years. Oops. Don't I feel embarrassed.

4. And, best of all, there's a website devoted to mocking the most ridiculous episodes of the Little House TV show. Sign me up. Sign me up NOW.

I definitely recommend this book to those who loved the Little House books, to those who loved the show and want to learn more about the real-life Ingalls family, and to anyone who loves history. To those of you who grew up with a sibling or friend who loved Little House, you probably can't even look at the cover of this book without your left eye twitching as all the pain of endless fun facts being crammed down your throat comes hurling back in one long hideous flash - but push aside your pain and read this book anyway. You won't regret it.


  1. I read this a few years ago and really loved the perceptive.


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