Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist Book Discussion with Stephen Hines

Update: The group discussion on the articles that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote for the Missouri Ruralist from 1911-1924, and in 1931, which have been published by editor Stephen Hines as Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist, is now taking place on the Frontier Girl Message Board.

Anyone can read the posts but to participate in the discussion, you will need to register. You can do this by clicking on the "REGISTER" link at the top of the message board page. This discussion is located in its own sub-board entitled Laura Ingalls Wilder Farm Journalist about halfway down the page, or you can click here to go straight to it.

Stephen Hines, the editor of the book, and myself will be hosting this discussion, but all are invited to participate. This promises to be a thoughtful and interesting discussion. We look forward to seeing you there.

P.S. The Questions and Answers feature mentioned some time ago is temporarily on hold. You may continue to send your questions, and we will be answering these, but it may take a month or two before we are ready to start posting these. Thank you for your patience. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Join Us: Online Book Discussion with Stephen Hines

Stephen Hines, author of I Remember Laura and editor of several collections of Laura's Missouri Ruralist articles, will be joining us for an ongoing book discussion of his latest publication, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist. The book discussion will take place on the Frontier Girl Message Board, beginning in January. More details will be given in the near future, but we wanted to give everyone advance notice so that all who wish to participate would have time to obtain a copy of the book before the discussion begins.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist is the most complete published collection of Laura's writings for the Missouri Ruralist. Laura wrote regularly for the Ruralist for many years prior to writing the "Little House" books, and the articles convey a wealth of information about daily life on Rocky Ridge Farm with Almanzo, the "Man of the Place", as well as afford the reader a look into the views and opinions held by Laura during these years. Anecdotes from childhood days (some of which were later included in the "Little House" series) are an occasional treat.

Stephen Hines first collected these articles and made them available to Wilder fans everywhere with the publication of Little House in the Ozarks in 1991. Since then, several other article collections have been compiled, as well as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fairy Poems, a collection of children's verses that Laura wrote for the San Francisco Bulletin in 1915. Hines has also published long lost works of author Louisa May Alcott, and hosts the Literary Prospector website.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to read and discuss each article with Stephen Hines himself, as well as other Wilder fans and researchers who will be participating in the discussion. If you don't own the book, it can be purchased here. Stay tuned for more information!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Have a "Little House" Christmas!

The holiday season is upon us, and if you're like most "Little House" fans, you may be hoping to work a bit of "Little House" into your Christmas celebration this year. The Christmas chapters of the "Little House" series are among the most beloved, despite (and probably because of) the simplicity of the Ingalls and Wilder celebrations.

Here are just a few ways that you can have a "Little House" Christmas:

1. Christmas with Almanzo

The Almanzo Wilder Farm in Burke, NY, will be open Saturday, December 6, from 11 am to 3 pm, for a special Christmas event.

Come into Mother Wilder's cozy kitchen for homemade cookies and apple cider, then gather in the parlor for a reading of the Farmer Boy Christmas chapter. Other enjoyable activities will be provided for the children, as weather permits.

The house and museum will be open to the public but there will be no tours (self-guided only). The gift shop will be stocked with all things "Little House" (including the new Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura DVD, which if you haven't already ordered, would make a lovely Christmas present for any Wilder fan), and free gift wrapping will be provided.

2. Go see a "Little House" Christmas play.

"A Little House Christmas" is being shown in local theatres around the United States over the next couple of weeks. (Known locations include Houston and Dallas, Texas; Eau Claire and Menomonie, Wisconsin; and Warren, Ohio.) Check with your local theaters, or do a google search on "Little House Christmas" and your state name to see if there is a showing near you.

Also showing are "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas"(known locations include Nampa and Caldwell, Idaho, and Mount Airy, North Carolina), "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Pioneer Christmas" (known locations include New Richmond, Wisconsin), and "A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek" (known locations include Boone, Iowa).

If you are aware of any other locations not mentioned, please leave the information in the comments section and we will update this post accordingly.

3. Attend "The Ingalls Family's Long Winter".

Raleigh, North Carolina, is the location for this unique holiday celebration, which will enable participants to learn about and experience the tasks used by the Ingalls family to survive during the Hard Winter of 1880-81. The event will be held from 2 to 4 pm on December 11, 13, and 14. The event is geared for children 6 to 13 and their accompanying adults, and requires a pre-registration fee of $2. Call (919) 856-6675 to register.

4. Enjoy a reread of the "Little House" Christmas chapters.

Live too far from any of the Christmas events? Have your own "Little House" party. Read the Christmas chapters and simply enjoy them, or use them to find ideas you can incorporate into your own family's Christmas traditions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Questions and Answers

As I was looking through the statistics for this blog, checking to see how people were discovering it, I became increasingly aware of a need that webpages don't fill. There are so many "Little House" related questions that people are asking on search engines, and I read through some of these shaking my head, knowing that the answers to those questions were not found on this blog, and probably weren't found anywhere else online either. The people asking those questions were experiencing fruitless searches, and yet their questions aren't difficult to answer.

Questions like, "Did Laura Ingalls go to college?" (No), "Is there any film footage of Laura Ingalls Wilder?" (No), "Where is an interview with Laura Ingalls Wilder?" (on the Laura Speaks recording available from the Wilder Home in Mansfield or the Memorial Society in De Smet).

Then, I received a suggestion from a reader that "Little House" trivia (bits of information not known to the casual reader of the books, but that budding fans would find interesting) be made a part of the blog.

So I will combine those two thoughts together to add this new feature: the Questions and Answers series. If you have questions about anything related to Laura Ingalls Wilder or the "Little House" books, ask them here -- chances are, someone else out there is wondering the same thing. The questions, which I will answer to the best of my ability, will be posted on a regular basis, as long as the need exists and the questions are still coming.

Email your questions to frontiergirl@hotmail.com (you will not be identified when your question is posted).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane:
Authorship, Place, Time, and Culture

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time, and Culture, by John E. Miller, is a compilation of critical essays exploring the themes of place, time, and culture in the lives and writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane.

Miller first addresses the question of authorship, explaining that any serious assessment of the "Little House" series must begin with an understanding of the collaborative process between Wilder and Lane in the creation and development of the books, and then expounding on his interpretation of that process and the role each woman played in the writing and editing of the series.

In terms of "place", Miller provides an interesting discussion on the significance of the differing attractions of both Wilder and Lane to houses.

He then looks at "time" through a series of articles: an in-depth historical look at 1932, the year Little House in the Big Woods was published; a comparison of Wilder and Frederick Jackson Turner as frontier mythologists; and a look at an unpublished Missouri history written by Lane, compared and contrasted with Thomas Hart Benton's historical Missouri mural.

Finally, the concept of "culture" as it relates to the "Little House" books is examined as Miller readdresses first the development of Wilder's writing skills through her experiences as columnist for the Missouri Ruralist, and then the controversy and criticism surrounding the treatment of Native Americans in Wilder's books. Miller concludes with thoughtful commentary on the political views of Wilder and Lane, and how these beliefs were (and were not) evidenced in their writings.

This book is a welcome addition to the collection of scholarly critical works produced in recent years on Wilder and Lane. We recommend it for anyone interested in academic study of Laura Ingalls Wilder or Rose Wilder Lane.

Click here to purchase this book (all proceeds donated to LIW Homesites.)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Video Tour of Rocky Ridge Farm

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl has just added a video tour of Rocky Ridge Farm, located in Mansfield, Missouri. We encourage you to watch the video, then start planning your own trip to the Wilder home and museum.

Click here to watch the video.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Video Tour of the real Little House on the Prairie

The "Little House on the Prairie" homesite in Wayside, Kansas, has received extensive coverage in the media over the last week due to a lawsuit filed by Friendly Family Productions against the site. The small nonprofit site is located on the land that historians have determined to most likely be where the Charles Ingalls family settled in 1869-1870. Carrie Ingalls was born here on August 3, 1870. Laura wrote about the family's stay here in Indian Territory in her book entitled Little House on the Prairie.

The premiere movie "Little House on the Prairie", starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, which later became the popular television series, is based on this novel. The Friendlys claim that they purchased all rights for television, as well as for merchandise. However, the Kansas homesite owns the registered trademark "Little House on the Prairie" for clothing and toys. The Friendlys attempted to purchase the trademark but the homesite did not wish to sell it. Now the Friendlys are sueing for damages and for all the money the site has made from use of the name.

The site has no admission fee but operates on donations only, and reportedly brings in barely enough money to make ends meet.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl
, has just added a video tour of the Little House on the Prairie site. We encourage you to stop in for a visit if you are traveling through Kansas. The site is located off Highway 75, thirteen miles southwest of Independence, Kansas.

If you wish to help defray the homesite's legal costs involved with this lawsuit, you may send donations to:

Little House on the Prairie, Inc.
Box 110
Independence, KS 67301

We hope this case will be quickly dismissed, and the Little House on the Prairie can continue to bring pleasure to Laura's fans for many years to come.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Meet William Anderson, Wilder scholar

William Anderson, well-known "Little House" historian and the author of many Wilder-related publications, will speak in Junction City, Kansas, Sunday October 19, at 1:30 pm.

The event will begin with fiddle music by a local musician, followed by Bill Anderson's presentation on the life and works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anderson will sell and sign some of his books after his talk.

This program is sponsored by the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library in Junction City, KS, but will be held at the Junction City High School auditorium, located at 900 North Eisenhower. The event is free, but tickets are required, and can be picked up at the library anytime during regular hours at 230 West Seventh.

The library currently has a Wilder display featuring items on loan from the Wilder Home in Mansfield, Missouri, as well as two autographed "Little House" books. Stop in before October 31 to see this exhibit.

For more information, contact Patty Collins at (785) 238-4311 or pattyc@jclib.org.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Save America's Treasures: Rocky Ridge Farm

The visit paid by First Lady Laura Bush earlier today to Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri, turned out to be more than just a visit. Mrs. Bush awarded the museum a certificate designating it as an official Save America's Treasures project. This will make it possible for the museum to apply for grants to assist in preserving the Wilder home and artifacts for the generations to come.

For more information on Mrs. Bush's visit and the museum's long-term preservation goals, watch the following two local news videos. (Please wait a few seconds for the advertisement, and then the news brief will begin.)

KY3 news video

OzarksFirst news video (KOLR)

Ingalls Family and Friends Picnic -- Florida

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl is, "Are there any descendants of the Ingalls family still living today?" Laura's daughter Rose Wilder Lane was the only biological grandchild of Charles and Caroline Ingalls to survive infancy, and she had no surviving children, therefore if referring to Laura's immediate family, the answer is no. (Note: Carrie did have two stepchildren, and there are surviving descendants of her stepdaughter Mary.)

However, there are many descendants still living of some of Laura's cousins, and now you have an opportunity to meet some of them!

For a few months in 1891-1892, Laura, Almanzo, and Rose lived in Holmes County, Florida, with Peter Ingalls and his family -- "Cousin Peter" from Little House in the Big Woods and The First Four Years. Another cousin, Joseph Quiner Carpenter (not mentioned in the books, but he is the son of Ma's and Aunt Eliza's sister Martha) also owned land nearby.

Peter's grandson still owns the family land in Westville, Florida, and a historical marker commemorates the site where Peter's home formerly stood.

The third annual Ingalls Family and Friends Reunion Picnic will be held on the Peter Ingalls farm from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, October 18. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Peter Ingalls will be in attendance. You are welcome to attend this picnic, see the historical marker, and visit with other Laura fans and the Ingalls family.

While in the area, you may also wish to visit the Mt. Ida Church where Laura and Almanzo attended, along with the Peter Ingalls family. Beside the church is the cemetery where Peter, his wife Mary ("Molly") and one son, Alex, are buried.

For more information, including directions to the farm, please contact John Bass at JohnBass@aol.com.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dean Butler and Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura

The new documentary, Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, produced by Dean Butler of Legacy Documentaries, has been officially released on DVD.

The DVD is sold exclusively by the Wilder Farm in Burke, New York, and can be ordered online at Almanzo's General Store (you'll want to check out the other items available for purchase there, as well!) or by phoning the Wilder Farm at (518) 483-1207.

The price is $21.95, plus a shipping and handling fee.

Cheryl Malandrinos of the Laura's Little Houses blog has conducted an interview with Dean Butler about this documentary, as well as his experiences with the television show and the literary world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Click here to read the full interview.

Dean Butler was also featured on the Ryan Lindsay show which aired September 25. You can listen to this interview online at Blogtalk Radio. (Wait through the brief advertisement that will appear when you click this link; the show will begin immediately afterward.)

For those who pre-ordered your DVD, you will be contacted by the Wilder Farm sometime in the next week or two for payment information.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Visit from Laura Bush

The town of Mansfield, Missouri, is gearing up for a visit from First Lady Laura Bush, scheduled for this coming Friday, October 3. Mrs. Bush will visit Rocky Ridge Farm around noon on Friday to tour the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum.

The "Little House" books have been favorites of Mrs. Bush's since her childhood days, and she has stated that her mother read Little House on the Prairie to her before she could read. Mrs. Bush in turn passed the "Little House" books on to her own girls, and has often mentioned the series in her talks on the importance of reading.

We are sure that she will enjoy her visit to Laura's Ozark home. We encourage anyone who has not yet made the trip to Rocky Ridge to do so as it as an experience that no Wilder fan will want to miss.

Update: (posted October 3, 2008)

Click here to watch KY3 news video of Laura Bush's tour of Rocky Ridge Farm held earlier today. (Wait through the brief commercial and the news piece will begin.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura DVD Release

We are pleased to announce the upcoming release of a new documentary entitled "Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura." The DVD is produced by Dean Butler of Legacy Documentaries. Many will recognize Dean as the actor who played the part of Almanzo Wilder in Michael Landon's television series "Little House on the Prairie."

Dean Butler has traveled to the childhood home of Almanzo Wilder in Burke, New York, to retell the story of Almanzo's youth as written about by Laura Ingalls Wilder in Farmer Boy. Using historic photographs, interviews with historians, animated Garth Williams illustrations, re-enacted scenes from Farmer Boy, and footage shot on location of the Wilder Farm near Malone, Dean Butler has put together a spectacular production that "Little House" fans will appreciate and enjoy for years to come.

The DVD will be released September 25, 2008, and is available for purchase only through the Almanzo Wilder Farm. Thanks to the generosity of Dean Butler, all proceeds will benefit the Wilder Farm. We encourage you all not to miss this opportunity to obtain an amazing documentary while supporting the Wilder Farm. We will post a reminder and link to purchase when the DVD is officially released.

Watch the trailer below for a taste of what the documentary will be like. We hope to see more "Little House" related productions from Legacy Documentaries in the future!

Click here to watch the video.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Harvest Fest -- New York

Bring the kids to the Almanzo Wilder Farm in Burke, New York, on Saturday, September 27, to celebrate the annual Harvest Fest. Children can paint pumpkins, make scarecrows, and play old-fashioned games.

The original farmhouse lived in by Almanzo Wilder and his family during his childhood, described in Farmer Boy, as well as the replica barns that have been built on the property will be open, and guests are free to walk through and look around as they wish. Textile demonstrations, such as spinning and weaving that Mother Wilder did, will be given.

A Civil War encampment and live musical entertainment will also be part of the festival. Activities run from 10 am to 4 pm. Contact the Almanzo Wilder Farm for more information.

Almanzo Wilder Farm
Malone, New York
(518) 483-1207

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kansas Pioneer Girl Day

Kansas Pioneer Girl Day will take place from 10 am to noon on Saturday, September 27, in Olathe, Kansas (near Kansas City).

Visitors are encouraged to dress "like Laura" or pioneer-style to participate in the old-fashioned games and activities available. Period music and stories of the Ingalls will also be featured.

Activities take place at the Ernie Miller Park in Olathe. Admission is $4. Advance registration is required and the event fills quickly. Call (913) 764-7759 to register.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wilder Days - Wisconsin and Missouri

Summer is over, autumn is just around the corner, and the kids are back in school. But the end of summer isn't the end of fun at the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic homesites.

This weekend, September 13-14, Laura Ingalls Wilder Days will be celebrated in Pepin, Wisconsin. Activities will include craft demonstrations, children's pioneer games, wagon rides, and musical entertainment. Events will be held Saturday from 9 am to 10 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm.

Historians Sarah Sue Uthoff and Kitty Latane will be speaking in the Pepin Public Library beginning at 11 am Saturday. Girls ages 5-13 may participate in the "Pepin Laura" contest Saturday afternoon. The events will conclude with a Sunday afternoon parade at 2 pm. Of course, attendees will want to visit the museum and "Little House in the Big Woods" replica cabin while visiting Pepin. Call 1-800-442-3011 for more details or visit the Pepin website.

Meanwhile, in Mansfield, Missouri, "Little House" fans will be celebrating Wilder Days as well.

On Saturday, September 13, the "Little Laura" and "Little Farmer Boy" lookalike contests will begin at 9 am. Afterward, children can participate in 19th century games, followed by a parade at 1 pm, with the theme "On the Way Home." At 3 pm and 8 pm, the Ozark Mountain Players will perform their "Laura's Memories" pageant at the Mansfield City Park.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Mansfield (Rocky Ridge farm) will be open for tours all day. Pa's fiddle will be played at 10:15 and 1:30 on the museum grounds. Other entertainment will be provided throughout the course of the day. Visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home website for more information.

We hope many of you are able to attend one of these events, and have a very enjoyable weekend celebrating the life and books of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Searching for Letters from Laura Ingalls Wilder

During her lifetime as an author, Laura Ingalls Wilder responded to every fan letter she received, until the last six months of her life. These letters were scattered to the four winds and while some have come safely to rest in museums, archives, and libraries across the country, others currently reside in scrapbooks, the backs of drawers, in musty files, and in old shoe boxes tied up with ribbon.

Please help make sure those letters aren't lost forever. In conjunction with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, Sarah Uthoff is seeking photocopies of Laura letters. These would be scholarly study copies only and will be deposited in the newly built archive room at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. She is also seeking photos of any of the Wilder museum sites pre-1985 or photos of any special local Wilder events, such as gingerbread parties that you might have attended. You may send the photographs by mail, or scan them and send by email.

Send photographs and/or photocopies of letters to:
Sarah Uthoff
P.O. Box 111
Solon, IA 52333

Send scanned photographs to:

For more information, visit Sarah's site at Trundlebed Tales.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Little House on the Prairie, the Musical: A Review


This review contains some information that those who plan to watch the performance may not wish to know in advance.

The Little House on the Prairie musical opens tonight at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after previewing July 26 through August 14. Although critical reviews from theatre experts abound, I have yet to see a full review from the perspective of the "Little House" fan.
The theatre is small and cozy; the Homestead Act of 1862 is displayed on a screen before the performance begins.

The storyline focuses on the Ingalls' quest for "free land" and the struggles they and fellow homesteaders endured trying to prove up on their bet with Uncle Sam. The producers did an excellent job capturing the pioneer spirit -- their devotion to the land and to overcoming hard times. However, I feel they fall short when it comes to making an emotional connection with the audience.

The early scenes were very cute and they did an excellent job incorporating humor throughout the play; but the play failed to make me connect with the characters on a deeper level. It often made me laugh, but it failed to make me cry. The characters are caricatures rather than real people. Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable experience and I would love to see it again.

The “Little House” purist will be both pleased and displeased with the script. Pleased because a great number of lines in the dialogue come straight out of the “Little House” books, many lines word for word the way Laura wrote them. Displeased because, as in any dramatic production, liberties were taken and changes were made.

Virtually every scene in the musical comes from the books; however, they are not always chronological. There is some logic behind the changes that were made, however. For example, Mary does not go blind until the Long Winter, but it is obvious that this change was made because her character needed to be developed (as the good little girl who loves to learn and wants to be a teacher) so that the impact that her blindness had on her could be better understood by the audience. Mary contracts scarlet fever, and this scene was developed by pulling in bits from the “fever ‘n’ ague” chapter of Little House on the Prairie. Again, there is some logic to this – a doctor had to be called for Mary anyway, Laura doesn’t ever name a doctor in De Smet or Walnut Grove; so rather than invent a fictional doctor, the writer simply pulled in Dr. Tann from a previous book.

The story begins with the Ingalls’ decision to leave Walnut Grove. We see the building of the railroad, finding and filing on the homestead claim, the town springing up around them. Laura is portrayed as a little girl during these early scenes of the musical, and quickly becomes characterized as – for lack of a better word – wild. Kara Lindsay is energetic and animated, to the point that I didn’t really find young Laura to be very likable. However, as the plot proceeds, Laura grows up and with some effort, is able to tame her wild side. The older Laura is a much more likable character and I was quite pleased that she calmed down.

Jenn Gambatese plays an outstanding Mary. As the older sister, her behavior sharply contrasts with Laura’s and Carrie’s in the early scenes; while they are high-strung and childish and complain about having to go to school, Mary is more mature, and recognizes the opportunities that living near a town and going to school afford her.

Carrie is played by Maeve Moynihan, and her role seems to be the cute little sister that provides occasional comic relief. Grace is not included in the production at all.

Melissa Gilbert is clearly the draw of the play, the reason that ticket sales soared and the show’s run was extended. Two big questions seem to be on everyone’s mind: can she successfully make the shift from being tv Laura to becoming Ma on stage, and can she sing? The answer to both questions is not a simple yes or no.

Acting for television and movies is very different from live stage performances. This style difference between Melissa Gilbert and the other actors is noticeable, yet not necessarily in a negative way. Gilbert is not as lively and animated as the other characters, but because she plays Ma, this actually works out to be a good thing. It would really have bothered me to see Ma Ingalls jumping around the stage as Pa and the girls do, because that would simply be so out of Ma’s character. So I felt it was a very positive thing that Melissa Gilbert’s style was a little different, because it helped to establish Ma’s character more accurately.

As far as her singing, her voice lacks the depth and strength of the other performers, but she shows natural talent and is actually quite good, especially considering her lack of experience in this area. As she becomes more confident and receives more training, I think there will be steady improvement throughout the show's run, making a good voice even better. It’s actually a great risk for her to branch out and do this, and I applaud her for having the courage to do so.

One concern I had beforehand was that I would find it difficult to dissociate Gilbert from the role of Laura, and that this would interfere with my ability to enjoy the performance. I did not find that to be the case; I had no trouble at all viewing Gilbert as Ma, she fell quite naturally into the role and delivered a splendid performance overall.

The relationship between Ma and Pa was very well done; I appreciated the effort made to balance Pa’s itching foot with his love for his family. Steve Blanchard made a wonderful Pa, complete with beard. I only wish that more emphasis had been placed on Pa's fiddle; with this being a musical, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the importance the fiddle had in helping the family get through their many trials, and it barely received a brief mention.

While my overall impression of the musical was positive, there were three major negatives.

The first followed the scene where the girls are sent home from school for rocking the seat. Pa yells at them for making trouble in school, and his tone was very cruel. It really took me aback and I felt it was very out of character for Pa.

The second occurred while Almanzo was driving Laura back and forth from the Brewster School. After Laura informs Almanzo that she no longer intends to go with him after she’s home for good so he can save himself these long drives if he wishes, Almanzo doesn’t come back! Laura stays at the school till it’s over, then Mr. Brewster takes her home. Meanwhile, Almanzo is taking Nellie Oleson for buggy rides. This twist was designed to create a bit of tension, to make Laura realize now that she no longer has him that she misses Almanzo, but it’s a change I definitely didn’t like.

The third was after Laura finished her teaching stint at the Brewster School. It was made clear that she was miserable there, but held out only to help Mary go to college, just as in the books. However, when she returns from teaching, Ma and Pa inform her that Mary has earned a scholarship and her money isn’t needed, and now she can buy herself a new dress. I hated the way this was done because it made Laura’s sacrifice worthless.

By the way, for those die-hard Wilder fans wondering how Almanzo’s name is pronounced in the show – it’s Al-MON-zo. (The real Almanzo Wilder pronounced his name Al-MAN-zo.)

The audience appeared to enjoy the production. Smiles were on many faces as they watched the performance; it gave me great pleasure to hear the audience roar with laughter at many lines that were actually straight from the books. Laura has such a clever wit, and it was splendid to see it appreciated. I did hear some rumblings afterward about, “Well that’s not how it was in the books”, but overall it seemed to win the approval of the audience.

Rumor has it that the show is slated for a national tour next year, and may end up on Broadway in the future, as well. I definitely feel a national tour is warranted, and will be very successful. I also think that if in the future the script is made available for purchase, many regional or high school/college theatre groups would be interested in performing this. Whether or not it would be a hit on Broadway, I'm not so sure; I'm not sure it really fits the Broadway crowd.

In closing, I would just like to repeat that my overall experience was very positive, and I was thrilled to see "Little House on the Prairie" live on stage. I would love to hear others' thoughts about the musical, and invite you to post your comments below if you have had the opportunity to see it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Carrie" Comes to Plum Creek

"Hi, I'm 9 years old and last year in the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in Walnut Grove, MN, I played Carrie Ingalls," wrote young Victoria Bayer just before Christmas. She was writing to Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, the twins who shared the role of Carrie in the Little House on the Prairie television series. "Have you ever been to the pageant?" she questioned.

Lindsay Greenbush promptly responded. "No, but I would love to attend." A week later, the announcement was official: The Greenbush twins would be making a special appearance at Walnut Grove on July 19, 2008.

Nearly 1000 fans turned out to see the twins, who hosted a question and answer session, in addition to touring the museum and watching the pageant, "Fragments of a Dream." A special moment occurred when the girls, having grown up playing along television's version of Plum Creek, stood on the banks of the real Plum Creek, on the Ingalls family's farm.

We have invited Victoria to share her experience of meeting the Greenbush twins in person.

Hello! I am Victoria Bayer. I am ten years old and I interviewed Lindsay Greenbush, who played Carrie Ingalls (along with her twin sister Sidney) on the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series.

It all started when I played Carrie last year in the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in Walnut Grove, MN.

My dad found the email fan club group for the Greenbush Twins and we joined it together. There are lots of people on the list. I asked the twins if they'd ever been to Walnut Grove and they said no. They asked for some information and I sent the Walnut Grove link to them.

Then a little while later we got an announcement that they were going to come. I was really excited. All of the pamphlets and billboards said "guest star appearance."

My mom told me I should ask to interview them for a homeschool project and they said yes. So I emailed them my questions and Lindsay emailed me her answers. We printed them out and gave them to the newspaper editor and he published them in the Sentinel Tribune.

They came to Walnut Grove while the pageant was going on and they gave a speech and answered questions at the park. The girl who played Carrie this year and I got to go on stage with them. I asked them what they liked to do for fun back stage. They said they liked to play backgammon and later they had a weight room. They weren't supposed to be in there but they were bored sometimes and would use it while the rest of the cast was filming. Sometimes they'd have a weight in the air and when the buzzer sounds that means you have to be quiet. They couldn't put it down because that would make noise so they'd have to keep it in the air the whole time or really, really quietly put it down.

After they answered questions, they signed pictures of themselves. There was a half a block long line and I got to get an autograph immediately. That made me feel lucky.

Some newspaper reporters took my picture with Sidney and Lindsay. The Marshall reporter chased me down and she kept shouting "pigtails!" to get my attention since I had braids in my hair. Then she asked my name and phone number and later she called and asked more questions over the phone. When the paper came out, we saw that I was on the front page with the Greenbush twins and the headline was "Thanks to Victoria."

It was amazing to be a part of this. I'll remember it forever!

Sidney Greenbush, Victoria Bayer, and Lindsay Greenbush
Used with permission.

Thank you, Victoria, and thank you, Lindsay and Sidney for generously giving of your time to meet your fans in Walnut Grove!

For those who missed out and are interested in meeting Lindsay or Sidney, the following upcoming appearances are scheduled:

August 23, 2008: Lindsay Greenbush will be appearing at Pioneer History Day in Simi Valley, California. Autograph sessions and a Q&A session with Lindsay will be scheduled throughout the day. Click here for details.

September 5-7, 2008: Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush will attend Holy Terror Days in Keystone, South Dakota. Call (605) 343-7800 for more information.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You're Invited to a Party...

A birthday party is being held for Carrie Ingalls and you are all invited!

When: Sunday, August 3, from noon to 4 pm

Where: Keystone Historic Museum in Keystone, South Dakota

Guests are encouraged to dress in the period of the 1890s (when Keystone was first established as a town). A contest will be held, with prizes of $25 given for the best children's costume and the best adult costume.

There will be children's activities, as well as a watermelon contest.

And of course, no birthday party is complete without the cake! Cake with punch or coffee will be served to all guests.

If you live in or will be visiting the Black Hills area this weekend, don't miss the opportunity to take part in Carrie's birthday party!

Carrie was born August 3, 1870, in Kansas. She spent the later years of her life in Keystone, with her husband David Swanzey and stepchildren Mary and Harold. The Keystone Area Historical Society has their museum in the old Keystone Schoolhouse. "Little House" fans will enjoy the Carrie Ingalls display there, which includes many of Carrie's personal possessions, the gravestone of Ma's brother, Henry Quiner, who also lived in the area, and a china figure owned by Carrie which some say may be Ma's china shepherdess.

More information about Carrie's life can be found at Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl. Please visit the website for the Keystone Area Historical Society for more information about what they have to offer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Laura Ingalls Wilder Day

The Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, New York, (near Rochester) is hosting Laura Ingalls Wilder Day on August 9, 2008.

On a typical day, this museum is a great place for any "Little House" fan to visit, as it is a large living history village, complete with many 19th century homes and businesses. But on August 9, special focus will be placed on Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on the "Little House on the Prairie" television series, will be present for the event. Unlike her character, Alison is an incredibly nice person, not to mention lots of fun!

Lonna McKeon Pierce, a professional storyteller and Laura impersonator, will be presenting her program, "A Visit with Laura Ingalls Wilder."

Children are encouraged to dress pioneer style (boys too!), as there will be both a Laura look-alike contest and a pioneer fashion pageant. Pioneer activities will be available throughout the day -- learn to do laundry, churn butter, knead bread, make a corn-husk doll, and use a cross-cut saw. But it's not all about the work -- there's plenty of time for play too! Join in the sack race, the three-legged race, listen to stories, go for a wagon ride, or join in a game of baseball! There's something to interest everyone! Many other demonstrations will be given throughout the day, as well.

Contact information:
Genesee Country Village and Museum

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Little House on the Prairie Musical

The big news in the "Little House" world these days is the new Prairie musical, which premiered today at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Melissa Gilbert stars as Ma, Steve Blanchard as Pa, and Kara Lindsay as Laura in the new production. Performances will continue from now through October 19, and tickets can be purchased at http://www.guthrietheater.org/prairie If you haven't gotten your tickets already, act quickly. Many performances are already sold out!

I will be attending the musical next month and will post a full review at that time. Stay tuned!

Welcome to Our Blog

Welcome to the Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl blog.

This blog was created for Frontier Girl fans who wish to keep updated on the latest happenings in the world of "Little House", as well as new features added to the website. Check the sidebar to subscribe so you will be notified of all new posts.

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For new readers, here is a list of useful links:

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl -- This is our main website, providing information about the people and places of the "Little House" books. Have fun exploring and learning more about this wonderful author!

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