Saturday, May 4, 2013

Staff Picks

I don’t know if I watched the TV series first or read the books—I am of that vintage that it could have gone either way.  Anyway, it was a long time ago, but  I did read and enjoy all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books and I watched Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon every week on NBC.  I was fascinated by Wilder’s depiction of the hardships faced by the settlers on the frontier and their resourcefulness in overcoming them.  I haven’t re-read the books, nor have I read the continuing series written by her descendants, but the memory seems to have a “good night, John-Boy” feel to it.  (Played by Richard Thomas in The Walton’s television series on CBS, based on the book Spencer’s Mountain by Earl Hamner.)  

Stop the Train by Geraldine McCaughrean, is the same era, different feel.  Inspired by the history of Enid, Oklahoma during the Land Run of 1893, we see a new town being settled on the prairie.  The characters are more colorful than I remember the Wilders’ being.  For instance, there is a Mormon sign painter trying to barter his way to Salt Lake City by painting signs for the local businesses:  “Charlie Quex, Barber, ‘Thy hair is as a flock of wild goats, Song of Solomon 4:1,’” and a schoolteacher who arrived in town as a mail-order bride and whose bona fides are iffy.  There is plenty of adventure and lots of laughs, as well as love and heartbreak and head lice and ear trumpets.  It all ends well, and if you like this book the story continues in The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen.

Mary Kretsch
Information Specialist