From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6-It is somewhat startling that Rylant should choose to cover a period of time about which Wilder herself chose not to write. Here the Ingalls leave their farm on the banks of Plum Creek to spend several years in Burr Oak, IA. Pa's determination is tested, but his pioneering spirit and hard work coupled with Ma's essential support and unending labor see them through. The death of a new baby who arrives at the opening of the novel is clearly painful to all; a birth near its closure is a reminder that life goes on. After several different homes in Iowa, the family returns to Plum Creek, where Wilder continued the story in By the Shores of Silver Lake (HarperCollins, 1953). LaMarche's illustrations wisely focus more on things than on people, which helps to reduce their incongruity with Garth Williams's drawings. The characters are somewhat different here. Laura seems less of a tomboy and enjoys tea parties and talking about the dolls and rich furnishings of their small-town neighbors. Some of the events match quite closely with known biographical details, while others are definitely fictionalized. Rylant enjoys detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna much more than the original narrator. These small differences will not matter a whit to those insatiable for further Laura stories. For purists who want the classics left alone and are sure Wilder is rolling in her grave, the whole idea is strictly sacrilege. For most everyone else, this is neither a necessary nor valuable addition.Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Gr. 3-7. When Wilder wrote the original Little House stories, she left a gap of two years between On the Banks of Plum Creek
and By the Shores of Silver Lake
. Now Rylant has crafted a story, based on Wilder's unpublished notes, filling in the story. She tells of the Ingalls' wintering in Walnut Grove, where Laura's brother Freddie was born; Ma's suffering a serious illness; Freddie's dying; and the family's backtracking to Burr Oak, Iowa, where Pa and Ma ran a hotel and Grace was born. Rylant does an excellent job capturing Wilder's cadence and tone as well as imitating the characters' conversational styles. Missing, of course, are the delightful human-interest vignettes that Wilder always included to make the characters really come alive. Rylant also omits the murky details surrounding the family's sudden departure from Burr Oak (probably a wise choice considering this young audience). Despite these small flaws, this is a well-written book that will answer many of the questions frequently asked by series fans. Illustrated with small charcoal drawings. Kay WeismanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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