These Happy Golden Years
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Ages 8 and up
Unabridged Audiobook (CD)
Performed by Cherry Jones
Pa’s Fiddle performed by Paul Woodiel
HarperChildren’s Audio, 2006, 0-06-056508-X
Laura is going to be a school teacher. It is hard to believe considering she is still a school girl herself and only sixteen, but a tiny community living on the prairie needs a teacher to teach the winter school for two months and since Laura’s family could use the money, Laura agrees to take on the challenge. So one day Pa drives her out to the Brewster claim. Mr. Brewster and his family are going to be giving Laura board and lodging while she teaches the school.
She quickly finds out how much of a challenge it is going to be. A long twelve miles from her home, Mr. Brewster’s claim is very spare and not in the least bit welcoming. Mrs. Brewster is sullen and angry, and Laura quickly discovers that there is nothing that can be done to make the woman happy. At first Laura is very intimidated by her new job but she soon wins the confidence and respect of her students and they all do well. The school hours are not that hard therefore. It is the hours in the Brewster’s home that are so dreadful.
Thankfully every Friday Almanzo Wilder drives out from town in his cutter to get Laura so that she can spend the weekend with her family. If she didn’t have this break at home on the weekends Laura would have a very hard time indeed. Laura cannot help wondering why Almanzo makes the long trip every weekend, a trip which is miserably hold. Can it be that he has feelings for her and if so can she return his affections?
This is the eighth book in the Little House series and for readers who have been following Laura’s adventures it is exciting to see how much Laura grows up. On the one hand she is still a school girl and yet on the other she is a teacher and a young lady who is wearing her hair up and her skirts long. Even more exciting is the fact the Laura is being courted for the first time. It is amusing to see how she goes from not wanting to give Almanzo false hopes, to waiting anxiously for him to come and get her for their Sunday buggy ride.
Once again Laura Ingalls Wilder tells her life story with humor, sensitivity, and with a keen understanding of what will capture the interest of her readers. In her narration Cherry Jones not only captures the essence of Laura’s determined and optimistic personality, but she also sings Laura’s and Pa’s songs perfectly. The combination of the music and the words gives the listener a very real impression of what it might have been like to be Laura living in the late 1800’s in the open prairie lands of the Dakota Territory.
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