Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Long Winter - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Summary:  On the empty winter prairie, gray clouds to the northwest meant only one thing:  a blizzard was seconds away.  The first blizzard came in October.  It snowed almost without stopping until April. The temperature dropped to forty below.  Snow reached the rooftops.  And no trains could get through with food and coal.  The townspeople began to starve.  The Ingalls family barely lived through the winter.  And Almanzo Wilder knew he would have to risk his life to save the town.  (Summary from book - Image from

My Review:  The girls and I have been steadily consuming the Little House series for the past several months. At ages five and seven, they have loved reading about the Ingalls family and been very excited to read each night, even crying on nights we’ve had to skip stories. Then we hit The Long Winter and all I can say is, boy, was it.

As its title implies, this book covers an unusual and incredibly long winter the Ingalls family spends in the town of De Smet, South Dakota. After about eighty pages, winter sets in, and the story devolves into a series of three and four-day blizzards with hardly a day’s rest in between. The family’s days become a never-ending cycle of freezing snow, screaming wind, and ever increasing hunger. As an older reader, I can see the value of learning about the Ingalls family’s ability to endure hardship and their use of good, old-fashioned ingenuity and perseverance to overcome it, but my kids were just bored. While my seven year old retained some interest in the story (at least in its conclusion), and both marveled when the snow reached the rooftops, I practically had to beg my five year old to come sit down so that we could finish the book and move on to the more active Little Town on the Prairie.

I've heard The Long Winter described as one of the more exciting books of the series since it was uncertain whether the family would survive, but felt that the summary, and the continuation of the series, really put an end to that question.  Despite my children's boredom, I still liked this book and would recommend it to an older reader (9 and up) with a longer attention span.

Click a link to read our reviews of: Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, Farmer Boy, and By the Shores of Silver Lake.

My Rating: 3.75 Stars

Sum it up: A VERY long winter.

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