In brief: This book follows Laura Ingalls Wilder’s future husband Almanzo through a full farming season in upstate New York. Almanzo is just a little boy in love with horses, but he helps with everything from cutting ice to harvesting potatoes on the family farm. His family’s farm is prosperous, especially compared to the Ingalls family, and even though farm life means lots of chores and hard work, Almanzo still has time to squeeze in some fun, including going sledding and raising a pumpkin for the county fair.
What makes it a great readaloud: The rhythms of farm life give this story a gentle natural structure, and it’s interesting to see how much work really goes into living on a self-sustaining farm. (Spoiler: A LOT.) It’s fun to get a peek at another part of the world of Little House on the Prairie and to wonder what might make someone leave a successful farm to strike out for the pioneer west. And the food! A hobbit (well, and possibly Ron Weasley?) is the only other literary character I know who could come close to matching Almanzo’s appetite and appreciation of good food.
Quotable: “A farmer depends on himself, and the land and the weather. If you're a farmer, you raise what you eat, you raise what you wear, and you keep warm with wood out of your own timber. You work hard, but you work as you please, and no man can tell you to go or come. You'll be free and independent, son, on a farm.”