Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill (Editor). Published by South Dakota Historical Society Press in 2014. 472 pages.
This book provides everything you ever wanted to know and then some about Laura Ingalls Wilder, her life and how her series of “Little House” books REALLY came into being. Pioneer Girl follows the Ingalls family’s journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory telling the story of Laura’s growing up years, from age two to eighteen.
Wilder wrote this book first. It is nonfiction, unlike the Little House books, and it includes things like her little brother that died, their sojourn in Iowa, the young couple with their baby who were staying with the Ingalls through the Long Winter, and other details. A lot of the stories in Pioneer Girl are in the Little House series of books but a lot of them are not. There are additional manuscripts, letters, photographs, newspapers, and other sources that are enlightening details and facts behind the stories in the series. Reading with the footnotes takes longer but adds so much, explaining who people are and what happened to them, explaining terms, and providing history of the area.
If you grew up with Laura, are interested in how the series was written, the facts behind the stories in the series, or simply just love and appreciate research then I would recommend reading this book.