Author Biography: Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the log cabin described in Little House in the Big Woods. As her classic Little House books tell us, she and her family traveled by covered wagon across the Midwest. She and her husband, Almanzo Wilder, made their own covered-wagon trip with their daughter, Rose, to Mansfield, Missouri. There Laura wrote her story in the Little House books, and lived until she was ninety years old. For millions of readers, however, she lives forever as the little pioneer girl in the beloved Little House books.
About the Author
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957) was born in a log cabin in the Wisconsin woods. With her family, she pioneered throughout America’s heartland during the 1870s and 1880s, finally settling in Dakota Territory. She married Almanzo Wilder in 1885; their only daughter, Rose, was born the following year. The Wilders moved to Rocky Ridge Farm at Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, where they established a permanent home. After years of farming, Laura wrote the first of her beloved Little House books in 1932. The nine Little House books are international classics. Her writings live on into the twenty-first century as America’s quintessential pioneer story.
Renée Graef received her bachelor's degree in art from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is the illustrator of numerous titles in the Little House publishing program, as well as Rodgers and Hammerstein's My Favorite Things and E.T.A Hoffman's The Nutcracker, adapted by Janet Schulman. She lives in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, with her husband and two children.
Date of Birth:February 7, 1867
Date of Death:February 10, 1957
Place of Birth:Pepin, Wisconsin
Place of Death:Mansfield, Missouri
Read an Excerpt
A Log House
For as long as Laura could remember, she had lived in a little log house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. But one spring, Pa decided it was time to move away. He wanted to go farther west and start a new little farm on the wide open Kansas prairie. So Laura and her big sister Mary helped Ma and Pa pack up a covered wagon with all their belongings. Laura's little sister Carrie was too small to help yet. She watched everything with big, round eyes.
For weeks Laura's family rolled along in the covered wagon, traveling through woods and over rivers. When they finally reached Kansas, Laura saw that there were hardly any trees. There was only flat land covered with tall grass. The land stretched far into the distance. Overhead, the sky was big and blue.
Day after day, the little covered wagon drove through all that emptiness. There was no road to follow and there were no other covered wagons around. It seemed to Laura that they were the only people in the whole world.
One day, Pa brought the wagon to a stop.
"Here we are, Caroline!" he called to Ma. "Right here we'll build our house."
Laura and Mary scrambled down from the wagon in a hurry. All around them was the grassy prairie spreading to the edge of the sky.
To the north, Laura and Mary could just see a line of dark green treetops in the distance. That was a creek bed. On the prairie, trees could grow only beside a river or a creek.
Far away to the east, there was another line of green. Pa told them that that was the Verdigris River.
Right away, Pa and Ma began to unload the wagon. They took everything out and piled it on theground. Pa took off the wagon cover and put it over the pile.
Then Pa got into the wagon. He drove right down into the prairie, out of sight.
"Where's Pa going?" Laura asked.
"He's going to get a load of logs from the creek bottoms," Ma answered.
For days, Pa hauled logs from the creek bed. He put the logs into two piles.
One pile was for a house, and one was for a stable.
When Pa had enough logs, he began to build the house.
First, he paced off the size of the house on the ground. Then he took his spade and dug two little hollows. Into the hollows he rolled two of the biggest logs. He made sure they were sound, strong logs because they would hold up the house. Pa said they were called sills.
Next, Pa took his ax and cut a wide, deep notch into each end of the sills. He took two more strong logs and cut notches into their ends. When the notches were cut, he rolled each log over so that the notches fit down over the notches in the sill.
Now there was an empty square on the ground, one log high. That was the foundation of the house.
The next day, Pa began to build up the walls. He notched each log before carefully rolling it up and fitting it snugly into the log below it. There were cracks in between the logs, but that did not matter, because Pa would chink those cracks.
All by himself, Pa built the house three logs high. Then Ma had to help him.
Pa lifted one end of a log onto the wall, and Ma held it in place while Pa lifted the other end. Then Pa stood up on the wall to cut the notches. Ma helped roll and hold the log while Pa settled it where it should be.
Every day, the walls were a little higher. Soon, Laura couldn't climb over them anymore.
One afternoon, Laura was tired of watching Pa and Ma build the house. She went into the tall grass to explore.
Suddenly she heard Pa shout, "Let go! Get out from under!"
The big, heavy log was sliding. Pa was trying to hold up his end of it, to keep it from falling on Ma, but he couldn't. It came crashing down.
Laura ran as fast as she could. Ma was huddled on the ground and Pa was kneeling down beside her.
"I'm all right," Ma gasped.
The log was on Ma's foot. Pa lifted the log and Ma pulled her foot out from under it.
Pa felt her to see if any bones were broken. "Move your arms," he said. "Is your back hurt? Can you turn your head?"
Ma moved her arms and turned her head.
"Thank goodness," Pa sighed. He helped Ma to sit up.
"I'm all right, Charles," Ma said again. "It's just my foot."
Quickly, Pa took off her shoe and stocking. He felt her foot all over, moving it gently.
"No bones broken," said Pa. "It's only a bad sprain."
"Well, a sprain's soon mended," Ma said in her cheerful voice.
Pa helped Ma to the tent. He built up the fire and heated water. When the water was as hot as Ma could bear, she put her swollen foot into it.
Laura knew it was lucky that Ma's foot had not been crushed. A little hollow in the ground had saved it.
Pa kept pouring more hot water into the tub for Ma. Her foot was red from the heat. The puffed ankle began to turn purple. Ma took her foot out of the water and bound strips of rag tightly around and around the ankle.
"I can manage," she said.
She could not get her shoe on. So she tied more rags around her foot, and she hobbled on it. She got supper as usual, only a little more slowly. But Pa said she could not help build the house until her ankle was well.
The new log house must wait.Laura & Mr. Edwards. Copyright © by Laura Wilder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.