Friday, May 3, 2013

Little House on Rocky Ridge

I've been reading some of the books I bought at the Cobb County Library Book Sale, so I thought I'd share this one with you.

Little House on Rocky Ridge by Roger Lea MacBride

If you are a fan of the Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you will love the prequel and sequel series. Prequels cover the lives of Laura's mother Caroline, grandmother Charlotte, and great-grandmother Martha, while the Rose Years Series covers Laura and Almanzo's daughter Rose Wilder Lane.

I found a few of these several years ago at a book outlet, but they didn't have the complete collection, so when I found two of the Rose titles at the book sale I snatched them up.

Little House on Rocky Ridge begins several years after the close of The First Four Years, the final book in the Little House Series, with the departure from De Smet, South Dakota of Laura and Almanzo Wilder and their seven-year-old daughter Rose. After all the tragedies dealt with in The First Four Years--serious illness, the death of their infant son, the loss of their home to fire, crop failures, and financial setbacks--Laura and Almanzo decide to pursue a new start in the Missouri Ozarks.  Leaving behind Grandma and Grandpa Ingalls and the aunts Mary, Carrie, and Grace, on the drought-stricken prairie, Laura, Manly, and Rose pack all their belongings into a small wagon and head southeast to Mansfield, Missouri. With a one-hundred dollar bill representing all their wealth, they make a down payment on a small farm with a small log cabin and a thousand young apple trees.

Naming their home Rocky Ridge Farm, they settle in to survive their first winter with little money, selling timber and eggs to buy provisions. Almanzo's prized Morgan colts must be traded for mules to break new ground full of rocks and tree roots. The apple trees must be planted, a barn raised, the log cabin chinked to keep the cold out while they adjust to both a land and a culture very different from what they knew on the prairie. Together they learn about chiggers, raccoons, barn raisings, and other new and strange things.

Little House on Rocky Ridge was an especially fun read for me because I've been to both the locations in the book. When I was sixteen, my parents and I took an RV trip out west, and in consideration of my life-long Little House obsession, we visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, Missouri, and then something in De Smet, but I don't really remember what (the Surveyors' House maybe? I remember there being a white frame house). Why in the world we didn't go from Mansfield to the Little House on the Prairie site in Independence, Kansas, no farther apart than they are, I have no idea.

I would love to take a long road trip retracing all the Ingalls sites, but alas, I will have to be content for the moment with virtual travel. It's cheaper.

Ingalls' Family sites:

The Rose Years books were written by Roger Lea MacBride, Rose Wilder Lane's heir. Describing her as "just like a grandmother" to him, she shared with him her stories and willed to him all the Little House books her mother had written. He has done an incredible job capturing Laura's style in telling Rose's story. Both the narrative and the illustrations are true to the Little House mystic, right down to telling stories for children in such a way that adults are captivated and spellbound, too. Like the Little House books, they are a quick read for adults, not just because of the simplicity of the writing, but because you don't want to stop reading. It's children's literature that will not insult grown-up intelligence.

I bought the first and third books in the series, and as soon as I finished Little House on Rocky Ridge, I went hunting the others I already had. Fortunately I had the second book so I was able to read straight through to the third, but I don't know what I'm going to do when I finish it and don't have the fourth!

The titles in the Rose Years series are:
  • Little House on Rocky Ridge
  • Little Farm in the Ozarks
  • In the Land of the Big Red Apple
  • On the Other Side of the Hill
  • Little Town in the Ozarks
  • New Dawn on Rocky Ridge
  • On the Banks of the Bayou
  • Bachelor Girl
Roger Lea MacBride has managed to snag that "it" factor that made Laura Ingalls Wilder's books so enduring and beloved. If you are a Little House fan, you have to read these books!

See also my review on Little Farm in the Ozarks.

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