Yes, I was one of those little girls who loved Little House on the Prairie. I was fortunate enough to fall squarely in the demographic that could read the books and watch the television show simultaneously, and because of that, Melissa Gilbert and I grew up together. While I preferred the books, I also never missed the show. There were some sad and pathetic moments; I missed a skating party because it fell on a Monday evening, and once my friend Sally and I were supposed to do something and neither one of us wanted to because Laura's wedding was being rerun on television-- so we got together and watched it. It's hard for me that my students-- even my own daughters-- don't read the books. My family even traveled 100 miles out of the way to see a LHOTP site. So you can see why I read the following:
Gilbert, Melissa. A Prairie Tale.
Fine. Melissa Gilbert wasn't Laura. She wasn't even an ordinary girl like me. She was adopted and still questions her parentage, started into acting insanely early, had a successful early career, dated Rob Lowe for a long time, married that nice man from The Scarecrow and Mrs. King, made a lot of television movies (which I dutifully watched, no matter how bad they were), struggled with alcoholism, and is now doing okay.
All-in-all, not very exciting. Reading the book was kind of like having lunch with someone you went to high school with but haven't seen in thirty years. I'm glad I read it, but I don't feel compelled to get together with Melissa again any time soon. And has Michael Landon really been gone that long?
McClure, Wendy. The Wilde Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.
Ms. McClure must be roughly my age, judging from the set of LHOTP paperbacks that she had. She perfectly describes my own youthful obsession with the series, although I was much more an Anne of Green Gables girl as I got older. (Anne had more imagination.) Laura had a very poetic manner of looking through the world, and long dresses. (I still have one. I wore it in the Fourth of July parade last year.) While dragging my parents to DeSmet in 1977 was fun, and I've always wanted to visit the house in the Ozarks, I have no desire to see every LHOTP site that ever existed. I'm grateful for Ms. McClure for going, writing about it, and letting me go along vicariously. This is a funny book that any die-hard fan will enjoy. It's just fun. I love the cover-- it reminds me that after my elder daughter read Townley's The Great Good Thing and wanted to dream about a book character, she went to sleep with Little House in the Big Woods open on the pillow next to her and dreamt about Laura. Sadly, this is the only LH book she read, but it was still fairly powerful for her!