Thursday, March 21, 2013

Literary Dream Tour, Pt 2

A couple thrilling updates for you all, in the Laura Ingalls Wilder and Betsy-Tacy department. I count fifteen more days until we leave for Minnesota, but we've been making steady progress preparing.

First off, for all you Maud Hart Lovelace fans who devoured the Betsy-Tacy books (including the spin-offs Winona's Pony Cart, Carney's House Party, and Emily of Deep Valley), I recommend you drop everything and give this one a try:
That cover artist might not be a Lois Lenski or Vera Neville, but the story inside is fabulous. Now I have to add at least a drive-by of Fort Snelling and Pig's Eye Park to the itinerary. Set in the 1820s and 1830s around Fort Snelling, at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, Early Candlelight is peopled with soldiers, fur traders, Sioux and Chippewa Indians, and the DuGay family. Love interest Jasper Page had more than a hint of Delos Lovelace in him, and I found the love story unpredictable and satisfying. Can't wait to try more adult fiction from this woman!

The 9-year-old and I have re-read our way up to Betsy In Spite of Herself, so we're on track there. I'd forgotten how humorous the books are and how well Lovelace captures the mindset of each age. The 9YO skipped a bit through Heaven to Betsy because she deemed the Essay Contest "boring" (!!). I grant you, the Philippines don't light my fire either, but there is no skipping over any possible mention of Joe Willard for this reader.

As for the 13YO, she hasn't picked up a single LIW or Betsy-Tacy book, to my disgust, but she did submit to sitting through Episodes 1 and 2 from Season One of Little House on the Prairie. I must confess: we howled through it.
A rare pic of Pa with shirt on
When Pa fell out of the tree for no discernible reason, it called for replays and re-enactments. My husband and I agreed we hadn't laughed that hard since the skit in Portlandia where Fred and Carrie are giving instructions to the housesitter. Good stuff. Now the only problem is that there are so many episodes and so many seasons, that we can only hit a couple more highlights before the trip. If you have a favorite episode, preferably with something ludicrous happening in it and Pa with his shirt off, let me know in the comments.

With Plum Creek on my mind, I picked up this book from the library:
and sure enough, Lockwood quotes the whole scene in On the Banks of Plum Creek where the Ingalls' see the cloud of pestilence approaching and then have to flee inside, ripping locusts from their hair and clothing and crunching them underfoot. I had no idea what a scourge these insects were throughout the 1870s and 1880s before they mysteriously disappeared. Swarms consumed 50 tons of vegetation a day, leaving famine and ecological devastation in their wake, just as we read in LIW.

And one final note, coming full circle to Betsy-Tacy, after my first post on the Literary Dream Tour, a reporter from The Free Press in Mankato contacted me about doing a story on our visit! We'll see if anything comes of it, but how cool would it be to be mentioned in the very newspaper that Winona's dad used to edit? That's like a rip in the life-literature continuum! When worlds collide, baby.

Thanks for tuning in! Now if I can just get some more writing done, in between all this reading...


10 comments:

  1. Don't tell anyone, but after we finished our family-oral-reading of The Chronicles of Narnia and the two Harry Potters that were available at the time, I decided to buy the Little House books for our family to try next. My son shoved them aside with disgust. "Those are girl books!"

    But after hearing the first chapter of the first book read aloud, who finished the whole series? My son...who demanded that dad read him every single one.

    Those books are pure magic.

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    1. Funny because I never read her FARMER BOY until I had a son. I always figured, growing up, that that was a "boy book"!

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  2. Take warm clothes! We just got back from 10 days in Chicago where it was 11 degrees yesterday morning. Hope it's much warmer for you! Happy travels whatever the weather! I loved those books!

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    1. Thanks, Judy. I've been watching the temperature, and my Minneapolis friend texted me a chilling photo of the snow piled up beside the road!

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  3. Sounds amazing! I found that, on our recent "tour of rocks" in N. Arizona, regular applications of ice cream &/or junk food we don't get at home went a long way to making another geologic wonder more wonderful. Just a thought with the 13yo.

    You know, I just want to come with you. Okay? I got chills at several points when I was in DeSmet in 1996. SO cool!

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    1. Thanks, Nan. Nice to be offered an adult companion--I think I've already had two children volunteered to accompany us! How have we never talked about DeSmet???

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    2. Well, it was only one stop on a long trip, and we were there for about 90 minutes. Still felt like holy ground, kinda, like being in the Uffizi gallery.

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  4. Sorry, I read Part 3 of the LDT posts first. I should have known you know all about DeSmet. I agree with Nan that it was like holy ground.
    We went thru Mankato, where both my parents had taken clazses ay Mankato State, on our way to Winnabago where my mother went to high school. We had lunch at the coffee shop on Main Street and she recognized my grandmotber's best friend from 30 years before. Then we went on to Albert Lea where we showed my girls the one room school house whereI went to first grade. Of course it was remodeled to two rooms for 2nd and 3rd grade as the baby boom hit rural Minnesota.
    Leslie Stevenson

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    1. What a fun trip, Leslie! Very funny about the baby boom. :) Every family should take such a trip. We've shown our kids the field wherein stood their grandfather's one-room schoolhouse in rural Washington, but they found far more excitement in avoiding the horse patties...

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    2. I wrote the comments this morning on my droid and must apologize for all the fat finger typos. They are popping out at me now that I am on the laptop.
      Have a wonderful trip!

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