For some of us she will always appear in our mind's eye the way that Garth Williams gave her to us in the Little House books, defined by soft pencil outlines against creamy white paper. For others it's the face of eight year old Melissa Gilbert we see when we read aloud from On the Banks of Plum Creek. Whether you know her as Mary's spunky younger sister, Ma and Pa's more difficult daughter, or the bravest little pioneer ever, this seems to be the year of Laura Ingalls Wilder!
There are a number of wonderful new volumes devoted to Wilder and her work. There are reissues of the original Little House books with imaginative new covers and back-matter explorations of Wilder's language and the times, a sweeping biography of Wilder's mother Caroline, an album filled with photos of the actual little house in the big woods and modern interpretations of Ingalls family recipes, and a quirky, subversive novel for Middle Grade Readers about a family's odd entanglement with the Little House series. There is a collection of Wilder's letters, a new series for beginning readers based on the originals, a picture book treasury of six Little House inspired stories for the youngest readers and no fewer than three volumes for adults that offer us new information about this beloved American treasure - including the revelation that the books were actually an inspired collaboration between Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.
I'm looking forward to spending time with many of these new releases, which I'm certain will make me want to begin the original series all over again, perhaps as a read-aloud with my grandchildren. Of course, we'll need a big helping of blackberry cobbler, a fire in the fireplace and some way to keep the bears at bay as we go!