The second and third novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder go practically hand in hand. Although one tells the story of her life in Indian territory and one tells the story of Almanzo’s life on a farm in New York State, they both recount the young childhoods of the future couple. It is interesting to see the similarities between both their personalities and their family lives over the course of these two books.
Life on the Farm
Farmer Boy, which is the second book in the series, was written by Wilder based upon stories her husband told her about growing up the youngest of four children in New York State. This book allows readers to get to know Almanzo as a child and to see and understand where his love of farming, horses and the land comes from. The insight into the childhood of this character makes readers of the entire series understand where his bravery comes from in the novel The Long Winter. It also allows us to see the personality of his sister, Eliza Jane Wilder, who as an adult, creates some trouble and tension for Laura in Little Town on the Prairie.
Life on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie, which tells the tale of the family leaving the Big Woods and building a house in what is really Indian Territory, shows readers how different Laura’s childhood in the vastness of the prairie differs from her future husband’s life in the settled area of New York State.
A main focus of this novel is the family’s various encounters with Native Americans, whom Laura calls Indians, and how eventually, the government forces the family to leave their house and neighbors because the land on which they built really belonged to Native Americans. The fact that the family has to uproot themselves once again makes life a bit difficult, as this is their second transition in only a few years. As Laura grows older in the other books, she can reflect back on her early childhood and all of its moves and perhaps, be glad to be settled eventually as a farmer’s wife.
These books can be read on their own or in tandem with each other for a great deal of compare and contrast options. Download the power points for each book and enjoy the farm life for a while.