So you’re looking for an “eyes nearly popped right out of their head” present for the Laura Ingalls Wilder fan in your life? I’m going to assume that they don’t have a large Laura collection already. There are many more possibilities, but if you have no clue here are a few to get you started.
First up, do they have a complete set of the books yet? If not, a set of their own is a great place to start. The three most common editions currently available are hardback, full color illustration paperback, and pencil drawing illustration paperbacks. (Note that the full color illustrations do no have all the illustrations shown in the pencil illustration versions in the later books in the series.) They are also available as books on CD as read by Tony winning actress Cherry Jones.
Second, interest in Laura is wide spread enough to support many books about Laura and her life. Here are some suggestions.
Prairie Girl by William T. Anderson – an 80 page introduction to Laura’s life
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography by William T. Anderson – a 256 page version of Laura’s life without footnotes, written at a jr. high/high school level, but very approachable for adults as well
Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder by John E. Miller – the best scholarly biography on Laura, “choked with facts” and a treat for any devoted Laura fan
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill – more of a literary analysis than biography this newest biography from the South Dakota State Historical Society provides an in depth analysis of Laura’s writing
Third, there are books that help you feel more a part of Laura’s world.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Country by William T. Anderson and Leslie Kelly – photographs of Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites around the country
Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook by Eugenia Garson – a collection of sheet music to songs in the “Little House” books with notations where they appear in the books
Little House Cookbook by Barbara Walker – a collection of historic recipes as made in the books
Fourth, get them a replica of something out of the books.
Many young Laura fans start a Laura collection with a bonnet or apron. Although you might be able to make your own or from a local source the homesite gift shops also sell them (see list below).
In a very memorable scene in the first book of the series, Little House in the Big Woods, Laura gets her first rag doll for Christmas. In the books, she is called Charlotte. Every homesite gift shop sells their own version.
Also, in that first book, Ma receives a china shepherdess figurine. In all of the rest of the books, a house truly becomes a home once Ma puts out the china shepherdess. There are three replica versions of this figurine available. Walnut Grove, Minnesota’s looks the most like the version used on the TV show, but it is made of resin, not china. The version sold at Mansfield, Missouri is designed by children’s book author/illustrator Cheryl Harness. The version sold at De Smet Memorial Society in South Dakota was designed by a local artist.
Ingalls Homestead tells me that their biggest seller is a tin cup. Laura and Mary each got a tin cup for Christmas the year they were in Independence, Kansas.
Laura’s faithful companion through the first half of the series is her faithful bulldog Jack. Most of the homesites have at least one (and in some cases many) stuffed versions of her faithful friend for you to cuddle with.
A final touch of the books might be a recording of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s voice. Laura Ingalls Wilder Speaks is a CD with the only known recording of Laura’s voice and Pa’s real fiddle playing music. Laura reads a thank-you letter to school children in California as an older woman, but it’s our Laura’s voice. There are a number of Laura music CDs brought out by different artists and groups. This is the only one with Pa’s real fiddle so that you can really hear it. Of all the Laura music CDs I own my other favorite is a Tribute to Charles “Pa” Ingalls. It also features Pa’s real fiddle accompanied by, apparently, the world’s first bluegrass symphony orchestra. Other fans prefer other recordings see them listed in the online stores.
Fifth, a gift that keeps on giving. If your Laura fan isn’t a member in the organizations that support Laura yet, each homesite has its own fan membership and the group that supports this website and the Laurapalooza conference is also offering gift memberships. (Most of the time I was growing up my mother bought me one life membership in a different Laura organization each year for Christmas.) A subscription to the Homesteader newsletter (the site independent newsletter – which I am a contributing editor for) or a set of back issues can also help her learn more.
While you can get many of these Laura based presents from multiple sources (unless otherwise noted), we urge you when possible to shop at Laura homesite museums. These museum dedicated to Laura get no regular backing from her estate and rely on admissions, donations, and gift shop sales to stay open for us to visit and preserve Laura’s legacy.
The following Laura Ingalls Wilder sites are still open and allowing you to order for Christmas. I’m listing the cut off date for Christmas orders to reach you before Christmas as given to me by the homesites.
Walnut Grove MN
Last Day for Priority Mail – December 16th
De Smet SD
http://www.liwms.com Click on Holiday Guide or Gift Shop
Last Day for Priority Mail – Aren’t listing one
Last Day for Priority Mail – December 21st
Phone 1-877-924-7126 (Toll free)
Last Day for Priority Mail – December 20th
Phone (518) 483-1207
Last Day for Priority Mail – December 15th
Malone also says for their set up, online ordering has a quicker response.
And Don’t forget you can also get your Laura fan memories of Laurapalooza 2010