Book Review: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted October 18, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Genres: Historical, Biography, Non-fiction
Published by Perfection Learning on October 1, 1953
Pages: 372
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek

Second in the Little House historical biographical series for middle-grade readers that looks in on the young Almanzo Wilder’s childhood in New York state near Malone. (Yeah, this is second, at least in Wilder’s opinion.)

My Take

I was taken aback by this whole new set of characters that seemed to have nothing to do with Laura Ingalls until I got through the first four books in the series and learned that Almanzo marries Laura. So, just persevere.

Sometimes, ya gotta wonder if we weren’t better off back then. Oh, sure, I know that’s the romantical(?) side of me that is fascinated by self-sufficiency…’cause I surely do love today’s hot-and-cold running water, indoor toilets, whole-house heat, and the grocery store! Maybe it’s just that the idea of spinning and dyeing your own thread, weaving your own cloth, and having the ability to control the quality of your fabric is the fascination??

Wilder brings the schoolroom (and the teacher) to life with that range of ages and knowledge as well as the teacher’s living conditions. Throw in the information about harvesting ice, the manners the children display, the chores required of each child, the food that must be preserved and how it’s stored, and how the family celebrates Christmas to bring their entire world into perspective.

What dropped Farmer Boy down to a “4” is the confusion I experienced in reading it. I kept going back and forth trying to figure out who fit in where.

“[America] is the biggest country in the world, and it was farmers who took all that country and made it America…”

Ain’t it too bad that America has turned into big-business farming…?

The Story

Growing up on his family’s farm in New York, Almanzo Wilder wishes for just one thing — his very own horse. But Father doesn’t yet trust him with such a big responsibility.

Almanzo needs to prove himself — but how?

The Characters

The not-quite-nine-year-old Almanzo Wilder is the youngest of the family. Thirteen-year-old Royal is his brother, and he has two sisters, twelve-year-old (and bossy) Eliza Jane and ten-year-old Alice. Father raises horses and is very picky about the kids touching them.

Star and Bright are Almanzo’s two calves he’ll be responsible for training. Blossom and Bossy are the two cows Almanzo can milk. Boss and Beauty are a team of work horses Almanzo can drive. Starlight is Beauty’s colt. I think Lucy is the pig.

Aunt Lindy and Uncle Wesley — he owns the potato-starch mill — their children include the bragging Frank, Fred, Abner, and Mary. Uncle Andrew and Aunt Delia‘s son is James, I think.

Mr Corse is the schoolteacher. Miles Lewis is in the primer class along with Almanzo. Previous teachers driven out included Jonas Lane.

The French boys are Pierre and Louis, and they rarely come to school. Pierre’s father is Lazy John and Louis’ father is French Joe, and they hunt, fish, and pick berries for a living.

Mr Case owns the store. Nick Brown is a tin peddler. Mr Haddock is the wagon-maker who offers up an apprenticeship. Mr and Mrs Webb are neighbors; Aaron is their son. Mr Paddock is in charge of the Fair Grounds. Mr Thompson lost his pocketbook.

Hardscrabble Settlement is…
…home for Big Bill Ritchie, who is the leader of the bullies, which include John. Mr Ritchie, Bill’s father, approves of his bullying.

The Cover and Title

The cover begins with a soft blue top border with its bottom scalloped to frame a black outlined box with the series information, also in black. The cover’s bottom has a simple blue rectangle, which repeats the series information. Blue scrollwork sprouts toward the center from the edges of those borders. The majority of the cover is a browns and cream graphic of Almanzo caressing the side of a horse’s face. The author’s name is at the very top in white while the title is also white with a shadow outline that spans Almanzo’s chest.

The title is all about Almanzo, the Farmer Boy.

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