I an excited for the March installment of The Little House Read Along hosted by Bex @ An Armchair by the Sea and Lynn @ Smoke and Mirrors. Each month, we read and review one of the Little House books. More info about the read along can be found through the links above. Check it out with the read along hashtag (#LittleHouseRAL) and join us anytime!
This month’s book is Farmer Boy.
A few initial thoughts:
- I’m surprised how different a life Almanzo Wilder had as a child compared to Laura.
- And I’m equally pleased to see how similar they are in personality.
- This book was a bit long for me. I enjoyed a lot of the stories and details, but, at about page 300, I was done but the book was not.
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder follows the story of Laura’s husband–Almanzo Wilder– as a young boy growing up in New York. Almanzo is the youngest of 4 kids and works hard to help his parents and siblings on the farm. The novel follows Almanzo over the course just over one year and highlights the work and fun of each season of the year–planting and harvesting, berry picking and wood hauling, the county fair and Christmas, and the many interactions between siblings. In the end, what Almanzo wants most in the world is to be like his father and to have a colt of his very own.
Almanzo reminds me a lot of Laura in the first few books. He is the younger sibling and would rather play and watch the horse and eat good food all day rather than go to school or do chores. I love that he loves his father and wants to be just like him (like Laura does). And I love that he loves farming and animals. Again, like the Ingalls family, the Wilders work so hard to survive. I felt tired just reading about the work involved in planting and plowing the fields, in harvesting the crops (and the middle of the night saving of the corn! Wow!), and in preparing the stock and house for winter. Life was so different back then. We have become quite removed from a lot of the issues they dealt with on a daily basis–5am chores, making shoes and clothes, storing food for winter, and weather affecting crops and animals.
However, Almanzo’s family is also quite different than Laura’s. I was surprised at how wealthy Almanzo’s family is and how noteworthy in the community. They have at least 3 barns. The table is always completely covered with food at mealtimes. His father gets the premiere stall at the church to park his buggy. They have hundreds of dollars in the bank. They have a parlor! And the way they talk about clothes and furniture is a lot different from the Ingalls. Almanzo is really lucky! He gets to eat doughnuts and apple pie and cookies almost daily. But he still understands the value of work and the importance of taking care of your family. And while their backgrounds are quite different, Laura and Almanzo have similar values and dreams for the future. I look forward to the books with them together.
My favorite stories were the black mark on the parlor wall and the ending scenes with the lost wallet. I love how the Wilder children eat ice cream and go swimming for days when their parents leave–only to hurrily clean up the house right before they return. The scene when Almanzo throws the dirty cleaning brush at Eliza Jane but hits the parlor wall–leaving a huge black mark. While I felt sorry for Almanzo and annoyed at Eliza Jane, I love how the story ends. Eliza Jane meticulously hides the stain with a patch of the wall paper and they promise not to tell. I love the sibling trust and how they make things right.
I laughed out loud with the lost wallet scene. I can’t believe Mr Paddock got Mr Thompson to give Almanzo $200! That was awesome! I love that Almanzo puts the money in the bank and that he wants to be like his father and be a farmer. A favorite quote from the ending chapter sums up Almanzo’s hopes and this novel well:
“A farmer depends on himself, and the land and the weather. If you’re a farmer, you raise what you eat, you raise what you wear, and you keep warm with wood out of your own timber. You work hard, but you work as you please, and no man can tell you to go or come. You’ll be free and independent, son, on a farm.”
Farmer Boy, page 370
That beautiful language almost makes me want to be a farmer–almost 🙂
The only question I have is how do Laura and Almanzo meet? How do they end up at the same place at the same time? Looking forward to more of their story in books to come!