Pros: fast and easy to read, interesting stories, positive tone overall
Cons: shouldn't be read alone unless you've already read all of the books before
My mother bought me the Little House series books back when I was a young child. I read the books over and over and over again during my childhood and teenage years until they basically disintegrated from overuse. Several years ago as a thirtysomething woman I asked for and received a new set of the books. I've been reading and re-reading them ever since.
I've been reading classic novels lately because they are available for free on my Kindle Touch e-reader. I needed a break and something lighter to read, so I've been reading some of the Little House books, including On the Shores of Silver Lake.
On the Shores of Silver Lake starts with the Ingalls family in Plum Creek. The family has all had scarlet fever and they are tired, in poor spirits, and, frankly, basically out of food and money. When Mr. Ingalls is offered a job working for the railroad company out west for a very good salary, the family agrees that it is time to pick up and leave Plum Creek and try their luck elsewhere.
This book follows the family's travels along the railroad line, the winter that they spent virtually alone in unsettled Dakota territory, and the spring rush of settlers hoping to file a claim on a homestead. (Homesteads were 160 acres that a family had to live on for at least half of the year and raise crops on at least 10 acres for 5 years. If they managed to do that, they earned the title to the land and it was theirs.)
This is historical fiction so many of the events that are described in On The Shores of Silver Lake are based on actual things that happened in the author's life but some of them may be fabricated or embellished. This isn't a straight autobiographical book by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
When I think about the entire Little House series of books, On the Shores of Silver Lake isn't one that immediately jumps out in my mind as something amazing... but every time I read it, I am again pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy it. Reading about how families lived as railroads were built is very interesting, but then reading about how a family lived through a winter in the middle of nowhere in the mid-1800s is even more amazing to people who are living over a century later in much more complex and comfortable times.
This book is 290 pages in the full-color collector's edition paperback with print that is larger than normal. The writing and vocabulary is simple enough for young children to read and understand but also something that older audiences can enjoy. As an adult, I recently re-read this book in about 2 hours total over the course of a couple of afternoons.
If I really stop and think about it, On the Shores of Silver Lake is probably one of my favorite books in the Little House children's book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The stories are generally positive and interesting to people who are living in the 21st century. I would definitely recommend this book to both children and adults but I think it should be read in order with the rest of the books in the series as that is how it makes the most sense... at least for the first reading.