The title of this installment of the Little House series sums up the theme – The Long Winter. When Charles notices that the muskrats have built an exceptionally sturdy home for the winter with very thick walls he points out to Laura that animals know things through the environment that we humans no longer recognize. Other signs are pointing to a cold winter and when a Native American comes into one of the shops and communicates his predictions, it frightens the settlers and rightfully so. “Heap big snow, big wind…Many moons” while holding up seven fingers meaning seven months of blizzards. And, yeah, guess what. He was right. The winter is horrible with blizzard after blizzard. The Ingalls move into their town building rather than live in the shanty on their claim. Food becomes scarce and as it says it’s a Long Winter.
There are several reasons this was a 5-star read. First, the description of the winter and the struggles of the settler’s kept you on the edge of your seat. It was truly a life or death situation. Second, we get to see more of the grown up Almanzo Wilder and he is quite a young man although Laura still barely knows him and doesn’t seem to give him a second thought. Lastly, and most importantly, Caroline finally has enough and tells Charles NO a few times. Go, Caroline!
“A fellow might do it,” Pa remarked. “With a couple of days of clear weather and a snowfall to hold up the sled, he ought to be able to make it all ri…”
“No!” said Ma.
Pa looked at her, startled. They all stared at her. They had never seen Ma look like that. She was quiet but she was terrible.
Quietly she told Pa, “I say, No. You don’t take such a chance.”
“Why…Caroline!” Pa said.
“Your hauling hay is bad enough,” Ma told him. “You don’t go hunting for that wheat.”
Pa said mildly, “Not as long as you feel that way about it, I won’t. But…”
“I won’t hear any buts,” Ma said, still terrible. “This time I put my foot down.”
“All right, that settles it,” Pa agreed.
Laura and Carrie looked at each other. They felt as if thunder and lightning had come down on them suddenly, and suddenly gone.