What a Difference a Decade Makes
by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
In fifth grade I had to choose a book and write a report about it. No big deal. I had written a handful of book reports by then. The first section of the project—choose the book. I figured that would be easy. Man, was I wrong!
The now classic hit television series, Little House on the Prairie, was in its fifth season at the time. I loved the show right from the start and rarely missed an episode. It made sense to me that I would choose one of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that I had inherited from my middle sister, to write my report.
I began reading. Man, this thing wasn’t like the television show at all. I found it so dull I could barely get through it. These were supposed to be classic children’s books?
Then I did something I had never done before. I fudged my report. I didn’t finish the book—didn’t even make it halfway through. I wrote my book report based upon what was happening on Little House on the Prairie at the time, attempted to draw some type of cover, and then handed my assignment into Ms. Fritch.
I chuckle about it now, but I received a C- on that report. I had never received less than a B on any assignment. Honestly, I think Ms. Fritch was being generous. Once I finally read the book—a decade later—I realized how far off my report was and that my teacher had to know I never read the darn thing.
What a difference a decade makes. At around the age of twenty-one, I picked up the first book in the Little House series, Little House in the Big Woods. I fell in love with it. By now my favorite television show was over, but Laura and her life could still live on for me in her books. I devoured one book after another in the series, and soon began purchasing books about the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, which was the inspiration for her children’s books.
I have an entire bookshelf in my office dedicated to books about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her relatives. Some are fiction, most are non-fiction, but I continue to wonder what would have happened if I had given away my Little House books when I thought they weren’t really for me. Considering that Laura is just one of the inspirations behind the independent-minded, feisty heroines I hope to create with my writing, giving away those books could have changed the focus of my career.
While Little Shepherd, my first children’s book, doesn’t have a female main character, Obed is still a character who is willing to step outside of his comfort zone, albeit with help from his father, to leave his first flock of sheep and visit the newborn King. Maybe he has a little bit of Laura in him too.
About the author ~
Interviewed and book reviewed at Family Literacy and You
Saturday, December 4 @ 11 AM Eastern
Interviewed at A Book and A Chat Podcast with Storyheart