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Apparently I have spent my entire life thinking Little House on the Prairie was the first book in the series (it's not, this one is) and not knowing that this book is set in Wisconsin (where I have lived for all 27 years of my life). I've heard of the series, but never read it until now and I haven't seen the show based on Little House on the Praries. So I didn't really know what I was in for.
This is a good educational read. It's not very developed plot-wise, it's more of just various stories based around a central theme (winter, Sundays, town, summer, harvest, etc.). It's still an interesting book, but it doesn't follow the traditional story arch. However, it is still very easy to get swept up in the text and picture oneself in the little cabin.
Each chapter goes into great detail about what it was like living in the woods at the time and all of the work it involved. From making cheese to bear encounters, this book is filled with interesting information about the time period. A great historical look that is very educational. Various processes are detailed such as making maple syrup, building a shelf, churning butter, and smoking venison.
Overall, this was a good educational read. I don't have any huge critiques, but I think there are a few things adults should be aware of before children read this book.
Disclaimer: this is a difficult book to read as a vegetarian (and I can imagine, as a young child). I totally understand the necessity of eating meat when living in the woods in the 1800s, but sometimes the book got a little too detailed for me. Listening to a very involved description of how to make head cheese was not pleasant. At times, the book was downright creepy (Laura hiding in bed during the slaughter of the pig then playing with its blown-up bladder like a balloon). Again, I get that it was necessary to eat meat and entertainment was few and far between, but the descriptions were just a little much for me.
Also, in the chapter, "Sundays", Pa sings a song about a dead slave, whom he refers to as "an old darkey". The original song is "Uncle Ned" by Stephen Foster. Apparently the word "darkey" replaces an even more not okay word in the version included in the book. I don't think books should be edited to make them meet today's standards, but I do think such references in old texts need to be properly explained by an adult to children. So it's not a criticism of the book, but adults should be aware of it if their children read this book.
The audiobook version includes songs from "Pa's fiddle" and Cherry Jones sings the lyrics, which adds a nice effect.
Overall, a very good read, but does require some adult explanation.