(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

As noted by biographer Donald P. Zochert, Wilder’s Little House books achieve “a coherent vision not merely of pioneer life but of life itself.” Little House on the Prairie and its companion books offer an important contribution to the genre in children’s literature referred to as historical realism. Wilder’s spare prose renders the pioneer experience in detail while expressing themes that are easily accessible to the reader: the necessity of and satisfaction derived from hard work, the importance and benefits of a loving family, and the nature of pioneer life itself. Wilder’s approach in fictionalizing her memoirs and the stylistic devices that she employs in Laura’s storytelling are consistent throughout the series. That the readers’ expectations are regularly met is an important element in the enduring popularity of these books.

Little House on the Prairie, in particular, is often praised for its honest portrayal of the American pioneer experience. The harsh beauty of the environment, the challenge to survive, the joys and sorrows, and the triumphs over isolation and adversity are all revealed from the perspective of a single character—five-year-old Laura Ingalls. Her point of view is exclusive. In fact, scholarly studies of Wilder’s handwritten manuscripts and revisions indicate that the author went to great effort to ensure that an age-appropriate point of view remained consistent throughout each of the Little...

(The entire section is 559 words.)