1. The great Laura Ingalls Wilder dilemma faces us: we've been listening to On the Banks of Plum Creek in the car as we drive hither and thither, and we only have about 3 hrs left of Cherry Jones' masterful reading. Now, 3 hrs is almost exactly how long Mapquest estimates it will take us to drive from Minneapolis to Walnut Grove. So we should eject the disc and save the rest for our trip, right? Of course. Except the boy, who disdained going on a "girl-book" trip, wants to keep listening. Uh-huh. He is particularly interested in hearing the chapter "Town Party" because we just heard about Laura and Mary going to school with the dreadful Nellie Oleson, and we are all fascinated and drawn to the dreadful Nellie Oleson like rubberneckers to a five-car pile-up. Plus, Cherry Jones does such an awesome job, someone should give her the audiobook equivalent of an Emmy.
|Her "Oh, Charles!"es are perfection!|
2. What do the great Laura Ingalls and Betsy-Tacy have in common besides Minnesota? Locusts, of course. I've driven the 13YO nuts by moaning about the coming infestation every time Pa buys something new and tells Caroline, "Don't worry, Caroline! Just look at that wheat! Once I harvest it we can pay for the house/pay for the horses/buy new dresses/buy anything, period!" Oh, Charles.
|From FineArtAmerica.com. Because nothing says Fine Art like a Locust|
If you recall, I was reading that book on the locust plagues of the 1870s-1880s, which excerpted LIW at length, but it also went on to quote Maud Hart Lovelace (!), her Gentlemen from England in particular. Not only that, but, when Aunt Ruth moves in with Joe and Betsy in Betsy's Wedding, she regales Betsy with stories of "fires, blizzards, [and] grasshopper plagues...Aunt Ruth loved disasters." It occurs to me that Aunt Ruth would have been about LIW's age. Very cool.
3. And why oh why has no one exploited the Downton Abbey - Betsy-Tacy connection? Same bat time, almost the same bat place, if you count the London chapter in Betsy and the Great World. All the things women love about Downton can be found in the Betsy books: hair, elaborate clothing, suffragettes, women speaking their minds, WWI. Great World and Betsy's Wedding have so many, many period details that someone should hop on the bandwagon and bring them to the screen. (Only please don't let HBO or Showtime do them, or Betsy would constantly be having to rip off her top and do the nasty with Mr. O'Farrell, Marco, Bob Barhydt, and any other man thrown in her path...)
I got so curious about all the references to songs and dancing that I discovered this book from the Maud Hart Lovelace Society:
|When the kids see this, they'll dump the Xbox and run to the piano!|
For the curious, I discovered this whimsical video of dances from Betsy's married era:
"Certainly the Crowd danced--in smart hotels as Mr. Bagshaw's guests, in their homes entertaining Mr. Bagshaw, and, when the weather turned hot, at country clubs and leafy lakeside places Mr. Bagshaw was aware of. They danced the merry one-step and the swaying, gliding tango and the maxixe and the hesitation." (Betsy's Wedding)The ancient, worldly Mr. Bagshaw was the one who praised Vernon and Irene Castle for bringing the culture "out of the turkey-trot-bunny-hug vulgarity." Imagine Tib doing the bunny hug! So sad that no one learns to dance anymore. At Easter dinner my niece told me her middle school incorporates square dancing into every semester of P.E., and everyone loves it. I'm telling you: Downton Abbey Dancing Lessons. Million dollar idea, and you can have it for free.