Prather’s Pick: ‘Caroline: Little House Revisited’ offers new perspective of old story
Anyone who has enjoyed the “Little House” books — and who hasn’t? — will be delighted to learn there is a brand new book about the Ingalls family. “Caroline: Little House Revisited” isn’t a book with a new fictional plot; instead, it is a retelling of the time the family moved to Kansas. The book is interesting, because the reader learns about the events of the family’s life from Caroline’s perspective. This historical novel is set in 1870, and I believe it covers the events of “Little House in the Prairie.”
The book was written by Sarah Miller, with full approval of Little House Heritage Trust.
In the author’s note, Miller — also the author of other historical novels — writes, “‘Caroline’ is a marriage of fact and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s fiction. I have knowingly departed from Wilder’s version of events only where the historical record stands in contradiction to her stories.”
She goes on to explain why Carrie’s birth was omitted from Wilder’s works but is included in this book. She also covers the historical records concerning the Osage Indians and Charles Ingalls’s land dealings.
“Caroline” begins in 1870, when the family lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. One evening, Caroline crochets as Charles plays the fiddle. Then, he pauses to make an announcement. He has an offer for their property, $1,012.50. He has plans to invest in property in Kansas.
Caroline remembers all the other times they have moved, but it has always been from one family sanctuary to another. They moved from Ma and Pa Frederick’s house to Mother and Father Ingalls’s farm and finally bought a quarter section of land with Caroline’s brother, Henry, and his wife, Polly. This move will be different, because this land transaction does not involve Henry.
If they leave right away, there will not be time for family goodbyes. Caroline gives Charles some news. She is pregnant. He will stay until the baby is born, but Caroline knows that leaving family won’t get any easier, so she agrees to pack up and head for Kansas territory.
The reader gets to help Caroline pack. What to take? What to leave? One thing that is packed right away is the china shepherdess that stands on the mantel. One thing she can’t take is her rocking chair. Charles says he will make more furniture.
The trip to Kansas is not without its challenges, including bad weather and swollen rivers — even getting beans done for supper is a challenge.
As with all of the events in this book, the reader learns about cooking the beans from Caroline’s point of view.
“She spooned up the beans and tasted them. None were quite done. One, the largest, was firm in the center, like a fresh pea. She glanced up over the edge of the spoon. They (her family) were watching her, eager for a verdict.”
The book covers the building of their cabin, Carrie’s birth, adventures with the Osages and, my favorite, their first Christmas in Kansas with Mr. Edwards. And there’s a lot more.
This delightful book is published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2017. It costs $25.99 in hardcover. The book can also be found with new books at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.