Of all the books in the “LIttle House” series, this has always been my favorite. It focuses on the terrible winter of 1890-91 in De Smet. Although Laura wrote her books as a mixture of fact and fiction, this book was a very accurate picture of that winter in the Dakota Territory. The blizzards did indeed begin in October, the Chicago and North Western Railroad did actually stop running by Christmas because the rails were impassible, people died of starvation, and the train didn’t make it to De Smet until May.
The Ingalls family, like everyone else, depended on supplies coming in regularly on the trains. When they didn’t come, they were forced to ration supplies and think creatively to survive the winter. Two young men, Almanzo Wilder and his friend Cap Garland, risked their lives to save the people in town from starvation.
The story is written so compellingly that you can hear the wind howling, and feel your feet freezing as you read it. Read it in the winter, when you don’t think you can bear any more cold, and it will fill you with gratitude for a warm house and nearby grocery stores.
A Newbery Honor Book