September 4, 2013

little laura begins her career as a book reviewer

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 8: Book Review: Little House on Rocky Ridge
Date: January 1996
Age: 9
If you have read the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you should read about her daughter Rose. Experience Rose Wilder's life in Little House on Rocky Ridge by Roger Lea MacBride. Moving from South Dakota to southern Missouri because of a drought made life tough. Leaving her beloved aunts and grandparents is hard too. Lucky for her Mr. and Mrs. Cooley and their sons', Paul and George, were coming too.

So bravely they packed up and were on their way. They went through Nebraska, Kansas, and most of Missouri.

When they got there, they found the perfect house. But something happened to the money. Rose found it a little more than a week later. So she saved the day. A little before that she found a dog and fell in love with it. Her mother and father say she can keep it.

After they move to the house, she becomes good friends with a girl named Alva. Alva likes hunting and trapping animals. Mr. Wilder has been having some trouble. The only man that had been working for him is moving. They need a barn. At the end the Wilder's are in for a big surprise.

If you like Historical Fiction, I recommend it. I loved it because I felt like I was experiencing her life. If you want to find out the fun ending you should read it. I don't wan to spoil the ending. This book has three-hundred and fifty-three pages including an Author's Note. Believe me, once you pick it up, you'll never put it down.
Before we get all up in analyzing this biotch, here's the scoop on the assignment -- and an assessment -- from my fourth grade teacher:
Objective: Write a book review.
Describe Activity: Students wrote rough drafts, edited their works, and wrote final drafts for a contest with Lincoln Journal Star.
Strengths: Laura expresses her ideas clearly and applies good spelling and grammar skills.
Funny she thinks Little Laura expresses her ideas well, when I know for fact LL spent a fair number of days "sitting in a square" at recess in third and fourth grade, because she expressed her ideas clearly to anyone willing to chat during work time.

Little Laura always understood the importance of sharing her thoughts and ideas with colleagues.

Oh fourth grade... Not the year Little Laura discovered the Little House books, but the year she became freaking obsessed with reading any and everything affiliated with the franchise. Oooh... except for the TV show. Little Laura tried watching reruns during a sick day and never got past Pa and Ma adopting a boatload of kids and the family never leaving Walnut Grove (not to mention Mary's finding a husband and getting her vision back) to manage more than two episodes. And who can blame her?

Pa was a man. He had a beard, damn it.

Little Laura has long been a stickler for making only necessary changes in adaptations. (Heads up studio execs. There are three more Hunger Games movies and a Fifty Shades trio about to hit the screen. I'm watching you.)

But back to the book review...

Little Laura still has some work to do on proper comma usage and capitalization, but it seems she's finally learned to check her spelling. Granted, she typed this up on a computer, but I'm relatively certain this was well before she learned about spellcheckers, and autocorrect was a dream for the future.

And par for the course, Little Laura continues to struggle with oversharing. Only, this time instead of telling the reader everything about her family -- minus social security numbers and birth dates -- she's giving away a huge chunk of the book. Sigh. This is book reviewing 101, Little Laura. Authors will smear your future blog if you don't change your ways.

I actually laughed when I read this review after having not seen it for years. Why? Because in some ways it reminds me of the reviews I've written in more recent years. The opening line or two, followed by a couple of paragraphs of story overview and giving analysis in the end is the same practice I use now. I even outlined that process in a recent blog post.

Granted, I try to avoid having the bulk of the review be a retelling, and I try to dive deeper into character development, pacing and voice. But I have faith in Little Laura. She'll figure it out.

What really made me laugh, though, was how promotional this piece sounded. "You'll never put it down." Really, Little Laura? I'm pretty sure you put this book down to read something else, but I suppose I understand what you were getting at.

A couple of quick notes this piece brings to mind: It's amazing how life often comes full circle.

For one thing, while I didn't win this book review contest, I did go on to have my work printed in the Lincoln Journal Star. I interned at the newspaper my senior year of college. Instead of writing reviews, I listened to the police scanner and covered whimsical community events. But I did become a book reviewer, first for my college newspaper and later on this blog. I also continue promoting LIW as a board member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy & Research Association.

Life is funny, sometimes.

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  1. I agree with your teacher, Laura. I think the review is excellent. Though your analysis of it is the best part, and made me LOL, as usual. Where's that post on writing reviews? I need to read that too. Little Laura did a better job than I do! :-)

  2. Little Laura is my favorite post. And that's the truth.

  3. Oh Laura, I adore-ya!

  4. Still laughing over Little Laura expressing her ideas so often that she had to sit in the square at recess. I was ALWAYS getting into trouble for talking in class. CHATTERBOXES UNITE! ;)

    I thought LL's review was quite good. It had shockingly few errors for something written by a 9 year old! LL seemed to fancy apostrophes. ;)

    Will our friendship be over if I tell you that I preferred the Little House TV show to the books? I wanted Michael Landon to be my dad! And I found the Mary/Adam and Laura/Manly romances very compelling. SIGH

    Loving every installment of this series! Keep 'em coming!

  5. Oh, this is might be the cutest post I've ever read! Loved it. But I have to agree with Tracie, I was (and still am) a big fan of the Little House on the Prairie television show. I didn't want Michael Landon to be my dad though. I wanted him to be my "daddy" if you know what I mean... damn, that man was HOT.