Series: Little House #7
Reading Challenges: #20BooksOfSummer, #LittleHouseRAL
The long winter is finally over, and with spring comes a new job for Laura, town parties, and more time to spend with Almanzo Wilder. Laura also tries to help Pa and Ma save money for Mary to go to college.
This seventh book in the Little House series takes place the spring after the The Long Winter. Laura is now 15-years-old and not looking forward to the possibility of working, but that is not an option since the family wants to send Mary to a college for the blind. Pa manages to get her a job working with Mr. Clancy, whose mother-in-law makes shirts for the ever expanding towns people. Laura’s job consist of cutting, sewing and placing buttons (on) shirts. She does not like the job because not only is it hard work, but she is sitting in one place for an extended period of time and her body aches. She doesn’t make much after the job is finished, but it’s enough for not only her but Mary to be proud of. However, it may not even be enough to to help.
The family’s crops of corn and oats are doing well and the family thinks that they could be able to see them to make up the remaining difference of Mary’s tuition. The blackbirds, however, feel differently and they destroy almost all of the crops. Everyone is disappointed and discouraged, but Pa has a solution. He will sell one of the cows. After the sale of the cow, the family now has enough of money to send Mary to Vinton, Iowa where she will attend a school for the blind.
Pa and Ma leave Laura in charge of not only the younger girls (Carrie and Grace) but also of the housework while they travel to Iowa to take Mary to school. The trip lasts a week and for the most part the girls do not have any troubles or mishaps. Their only real task that Laura makes a priority is cleaning the house from ceiling to floor for fall to surprise Ma. Once they return, Ma is excited and appreciative of the wonderful gift her youngest daughters have give her.
Fall comes along and the family moves to town to prepare for winter as they believe that their little house isn’t safe for the wintertime. Since they are now living in town this means that the girls (Laura and Carrie) have to return to school, which neither is very excited about. The new school year reunites them with old friends (Minnie Johnson and Mary Power) and old foes (Nellie Oleson has moved to De Smet from Plum Creek after her family lost everything), brings new friends (Ida Brown – adopted daughter of the new minister) and new foes (Eliza Jane Wilder, De Smet’s newest teacher and Almanzo’s older sister). The school term with Miss Wilder is not a bed a roses. She seems to dislike Laura and is very inconsistent with her punishments towards her class.
The new school term, however, is much better since Miss Wilder has left and Mr. Clevet has now begun his term as teacher. With Laura’s impending sixteenth birthday months away, she decides to study more since it is inevitable and necessary for her to become a teacher once she is of age. However, during the winter months she begins to slack off due to parties and socials with her friends.
It is not until the next term, which has brought Mr. Owen and his awareness of school needs and expansions, that Laura gets serious. Mr. Owen organizes a school exhibition for the students to display their educational knowledge and show the town that De Smet needs a bigger school. Laura is paired with Ida and the two have the task of giving American’s history. Both are nearly petrified with fear of public speaking, however, both are successful with a few minor hiccups.
Mr. Brewster, a friend of Mr. Boast, is at the exhibition and is in aw of Laura’s ability to recall and retain all of America’s history. He goes to the Wilder’s house and offers Laura a winter teaching position at a nearby town. Ma and Laura cannot accept the offer since she is only 15-years-old even though they desperately want to. The money Laura would make would be more than enough to have Mary visit for the upcoming summer. However, Mr. Brewster and Mr. Boast goes to town and returns with the school superintendent who tests Laura saying no on has to know she isn’t yet 16. Laura passes the test and becomes certified to teach up to third grade.
Prior to Laura’s certification she begins to be escorted from church (and the school exhibition) by none other than Almanzo. At first she is unsure of his sudden affection, as is Ma who thinks it’s peculiar due to the age difference. After some time, Laura becomes accustomed to the offer, but still feels unsure of the affection and her feelings for him.
I am thoroughly surprised because this one in the series was not only an easy read but also very, very enjoyable to read. I read with enthusiasm and anticipation in one sitting until I had finished the book. I liked the entire story from start to finish .