Like Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie, I almost think of these two books as the same one. I’m not really sure why. Plum Creek shows a young Laura moving into her first real house and going to school; while Silver Lake shows a teenage Laura on the precipice of her life. I’m sure my mind likes to combine the water-related place names. I do mix up the names from time to time. Is is On the Banks of Silver Lake and By the Shores of Plum Creek?
On the Banks of Plum Creek shows us a continually optimistic Pa who just keeps missing the mark. Quite literally so that one Christmas when he barely makes it home. But I still love Pa, even though he decides to bet big and doesn’t win. Actually, I probably love him because he tries to make a big bet to help improve his family’s life. Also, I love that he makes good on his promise to Caroline that the girls would be educated. And thank goodness for that education that helped Laura and Carrie later on in their careers.
By the Shores of Silver Lake starts several years after Plum Creek with yet another move. The real life interim between the books was a very difficult time for the family as they moved back and forth several times, lost a new baby, and Mary contracted the illness that would cause her to lose her vision. But the story opens hopefully as all Little House books do. Laura’s practically a teenager and taking on so much as the rest of the family recovers from illness.
Silver Lake is really the peak of my dislike for Mary. As portrayed in the book, she seems to be very jealous of Laura’s health and, most of all, her vision. It’s understandable, but her jealousy manifests itself in meanness and a much more focused attempt to act superior that we’ve seen thus far. She constantly scolds Laura for her descriptions of her surroundings, even though she states that Laura really paints a picture with her words. I just really don’t like Mary.
What I Remember
I only have vague memories of reading these books as a kid. For some reason that makes me sad. But, I don’t actually recall a lot about the books I read as a child and young adult. Every now and then I do remember some part of a book I read. For instance, on the way to the bathroom today I remembered a book I read in my early teens about a young teenager who goes to fat camp to lose a few pounds and feel better about herself. Well, she calls it a spa, not fat camp. But, why do I remember this? I honestly have no idea, but the four or so minutes it takes me to walk to and from the bathroom are a strangely prolific time for my mind. I drink a lot of water.
Did you read these books as a child? Do you remember anything? Do you remember all of the books you read as a child? Do you get a lot of ideas while showering or going to the bathroom? I sometimes think I need SNL’s Bathroom Businessman concept, but not because it takes too much time!
(Sorry for the video of a video; it was the best I found on YouTube.)