Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rock Star

Originally posted January 6, 2015

The response to Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography has been both overwhelming and gratifying:  articles and reviews in The Wall Street JournalSlate, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angles Times, the Boston Globe, Publisher’s Weekly, and my hometown newspaper, the Oregonian (to name only a few).  Public radio stations across the country have featured call-in shows about the book; so did NPR’s On Point.  Pioneer Girl was even featured on the PBS NewsHour last month.

As the producer of the NewHour told me later, “we got a great reception for Friday’s segment….  The Wilder fans are mobilizing.”    Readers and fans shared the Pioneer Girl segment and their impressions about it in impressive numbers on Facebook and Twitter.   Social media, a concept Wilder could never have imagined, revealed the depth and breadth of her popularity.  Laura Ingalls Wilder is definitely a literary rock star, although she couldn’t have imagined that concept either.

And Wilder’s fame extends beyond the United States.  To date, reporters and reviewers in Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, and Japan have written about the release of Pioneer Girl.

Unfortunately, many of you haven’t yet received your copies of the book, something I deeply regret.  My publisher simply didn’t produce enough copies to meet the demand, and the first printing sold out well before Christmas—and before orders to Amazon and many independent bookstores were filled.   If it makes you feel any better, members of my own family didn’t receive the extra copies they’d ordered as Christmas presents either.  They’re waiting—as many of you are—for the second printing, which is due in mid-January.   If you have any questions about the availability of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, I suggest that you get in touch with my publisher directly, the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, at http://pioneergirlproject.org/order/.

In the meantime, this media frenzy around Wilder and her work illustrates that her legacy is still relevant and meaningful to people around the world.  Her work speaks to readers across continents, cultures, and generations.  As I wrote in a blog earlier this year, Wilder’s books, including Pioneer Girl, invite readers into her life, and they come away feeling enriched by the reading experience.  Wilder’s work gives readers room to grow and breathe and think; they find their own unique interpretations, ideas, feelings, and attitudes about life, history, family, faith, gender, and culture within the pages of her books.  Perhaps that’s why Wilder’s work remains relevant, endearing, controversial, and important.

So I hope all of you will hold on and wait for your copies of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Edition.  And above all else, I’ll hope that when they finally arrive, you’ll think they’re worth the wait.

Holly Atkinson