Our Recommended Reading for Children & Young Adults and Recommended Reading for Adults articles have been popular resources for readers interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie. Here is a brief overview of On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri in 1894.
In 1894, Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband, Almanzo, and their daughter, Rose, packed their belongings into their covered wagon and set out on a journey from De Smet, South Dakota, to Mansfield, Missouri. They heard that the soil there was rich and the crops were bountiful – it was even called “the Land of the Big Red Apple.” With hopes of beginning a new life, the Wilders made their way to the Ozarks of Missouri. During their journey, Laura kept a detailed diary of events: the cities they passed through, the travelers they encountered on the way, the changing countryside and the trials of an often difficult voyage. Laura’s words, preserved in this book, reveal her inner thoughts as she traveled with her family in search of a new home in Mansfield, where Rose would spend her childhood, where Laura would write her Little House books, and where she and Almanzo would remain all the rest of their happy days together.
About the Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the log cabin described in Little House in the Big Woods. She and her family traveled by covered wagon across the Midwest. Later, Laura and her husband, Almanzo Wilder, made their own covered-wagon trip with their daughter, Rose, to Mansfield, Missouri. There, believing in the importance of knowing where you began in order to appreciate how far you’ve come, Laura wrote about her childhood growing up on the American frontier. For millions of readers Laura lives on forever as the little pioneer girl in the beloved Little House books.
About the Illustrators: Helen Sewell and Garth Williams
Helen Sewell was born June 27, 1896, in Mare Island, California; her father was William Elbridge Sewell, who later became Governor of Guam. She studied at the Pratt Institute, including classes with Alexander Archipenko. Her first illustrations were published in 1923 in The Cruise of the Little Dipper and Other Fairy Tales by Susanne Langer. She continued to illustrate throughout her life, including works for adults as well as children. Sewell was the first illustrator of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932 to 1943), replaced by Garth Williams in 1953 and subsequent editions. She was a runner-up for the 1955 Caldecott Medal as illustrator of The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh. She died on February 24, 1957, in New York City.
Garth Williams began his work on the pictures for the Little House books by meeting Laura Ingalls Wilder at her home in Missouri, after which he traveled to the sites of all the little houses. His charming art caused Laura to remark that she and her family “live again in these illustrations.” Garth Williams illustrated classic children’s books including Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and almost one hundred other books. A fascinating interesting biography, Garth Williams, American Illustrator: A Life, was published by Beaufort Books in 2016.
Pick up your own copy of On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri in 1894 here.