Sonderbooks

Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Wilder Life

My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

by Wendy McClure

performed by Teri Clark Linden


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The Wilder Life

My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

by Wendy McClure

Review posted April 1, 2012.
Brilliance Audio, 2011. 9 discs, 10 hours, 43 minutes.

This audiobook was a fun one to listen to while driving to work and back. It felt a little on the long side, but I handled that by giving myself breaks of a few days in between discs. The narrator sounded a little too much like a teenager to me, actually sounding a whole lot like Natalie Moore, who narrated Dairy Queen. However, I got used to her voice and rationalized that the author was indeed a lot younger than me, so it was okay.

The book is about Wendy McClure's childhood passion for the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and her quest to revisit the world of the books by seeing all the Little House sites peppered over America.

Now, I'll confess right up front that I never read the Little House books myself. I think I read the first one, Little House in the Big Woods, on the urging of Karen Iwata, my best friend in second and third grades, but I thought it was frightfully boring. Those pioneer books didn't grab me. I remember I also gave up on Caddie Woodlawn.

However, when my sons were growing up, my husband read them all the Little House books, which he had read and loved when he was a child, and I listened in and found them not so bad at all. What's more, we had visited the home in Missouri where Laura lived as an adult and wrote the books.

And I certainly know about loving childhood books! Some day, some day, I will visit Prince Edward Island, where Lucy Maud Montgomery set her books. Hmm. Maybe I should write a book about it when I do. Though at least Laura Ingalls Wilder had many, many home sites, so Wendy McClure did have a book-length story to tell.

I found the book all the more fascinating because right now I'm in the middle of researching my family history. I keep thinking of the old picture I saw of my grandma as a baby with her brothers in front of their sod house. I remember her telling me, "Just like Laura Ingalls Wilder!" She and my grandpa were actually born in Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma -- so quite near the original Little House on the Prairie. What's more, lots and lots of my ancestors were pioneers and farmers, moving steadily west, so the world of the Little House books is really quite close to the story of my own roots -- and that made Wendy McClure's visiting the home sites all the more interesting to me.

And I have to admit, Wendy McClure knows how to make the tale interesting. She tells about each place she visits, the people she sees, and what she felt to see them. She explores lots of her feelings about the books and about the places, many of which any book lover can easily relate to. She also throws in facts about Laura and her family, but sprinkles them nicely so we don't get bored.

In short, I recommend this book for anyone who loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, or just anyone who loves going back to the children's books they cherished as a child. The story doesn't have a lot of tension or a driving plot, but that actually makes it nice listening for a commute. And, hey, anyone who gets a chance to do a Little House road trip, following the steps of Laura Ingalls Wilder (and Wendy McClure), will definitely want to have this for the ride.