March 31, 2019

Manuscript Process

Some of you have been asking, so I thought I'd share an update on my companion guide to the Little House books. The manuscript is due May 1. That is soon! At this point it's tentatively called Laura's Prairie Companion. It'll be out spring 2020 with Chicago Review Press.
Please note: If you are reading this blog post in an email, you may not be able to see all images or click on links unless you go to the blog by clicking the title of today's blog post.

Getting Started

Over the course of the past five and a half years, I've read each of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books at least three times. I created charts for each of the books and took notes within those charts. I also read widely about Laura Ingalls Wilder and even took a research trip to the Almanzo Wilder Homestead in New York. (It's only about eight hours from me, so it was the easiest home site to visit.)
(A side note: I found this book (monograph) fascinating. Nancy Cleaveland's research is meticulous. If you're curious about the truth behind Laura Ingalls Wilder's own education and teaching experience, you'll want to read this. My favorite part was the teachers' exam. I suspect many certified teachers today would only pass it with some serious studying (including me though my certification has expired). You can get this book through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society.)

February 7, 2019

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder

It's been 152 years since America's beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder was born. She was born on February 7, 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin. 

Happy birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder! 

Laura's books engage readers with part of America's past. Children and adults alike appreciate the way she fictionalized her life to make readers love the Ingalls family-despite their flaws.
Learn more about illustrator, Renee Graef
Read more about Laura Ingalls Wilder life here.

Want to celebrate? You'll want to read these posts about planning a Laura Ingalls Wilder celebration.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, age twenty-seven.
Photo courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society. 
Used with permission.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Party Planning
Laura Ingalls Wilder Themes
Laura Ingalls Wilder Activities
Laura Ingalls Wilder Food

~ Annette Whipple

January 31, 2019

The Long Winter Discussion Questions

The polar vortex is causing bitter cold temperatures throughout much of the United States. It reminds a lot of people of Laura Ingalls Wilder's book called The Long Winter. 
So my next author newsletter will include a discussion guide to The Long Winter. If you've never read it or want to read it again, this is a great opportunity!

In addition to the the discussion questions, you might learn a couple of things you didn't know about the book. If you are interested, please sign up for the newsletter HERE. The guide will be in next week's newsletter!

Look for my companion guide to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books coming spring 2020 from Chicago Review Press.

Happy Trails!

Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at

January 8, 2019

Almanzo's Milk and Popcorn Challenge

I suspect every kid (and grown-up) who has read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy wonders if you can really take a full cup of popcorn and put it into a full cup of milk without spilling a drop.
Last week I popped some fresh popcorn for a snack. When my son grabbed a cup of milk to go with his popcorn, I remembered Almanzo's milk and popcorn challenge.

First we filled a glass to the brim with milk. Then we filled an identical glass with popcorn.
Then my son transferred the popcorn to the glass of milk.
We actually pressed the popcorn down into the glass. Almanzo was right! Not a drop spilled!

Not only that, but my son agrees with Almanzo: Popcorn and milk go great together! 
(Excuse the blurry picture. It was the only one where you could see how he liked it. I think he'd had about two spoonfuls at that point.) 

 Happy Trails! ~ Annette

 Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at

December 24, 2018

Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus

The creek was rising. Everyone knew Santa wouldn't be able to get to Laura and Mary for Christmas. Santa Claus asked Mr. Edwards to deliver gifts to the girls. Mr. Edwards carried his clothes on top of his head through that cold creek and arrived at their home shivering.

In their stockings, Laura and Mary each found a tin cup, a stick of red and white peppermint candy, and a heart-shaped cake.

"But Ma asked if they were sure the stockings were empty. They put their arms down inside them, to make sure. And in the very toe of each stocking was a shining bright, new penny!" 
Laura and Mary are thrilled to receive simple treasures for Christmas.

"There never had been such a Christmas."
The girls' excitement over the simple gifts found in Little House on the Prairie may be hard to comprehend in this day, but they were thankful for their simple Christmas treasures.

October 31, 2018

Laura Ingalls Wilder Traveling Panel Exhibit

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum and the Missouri Humanities Council provide schools (and libraries) with a free Laura Ingalls Wilder panel exhibit. It's an incredible opportunity to remind people of all ages of the life and importance of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

If you follow me on Facebook (at Little House Companion or my author page) then you might remember I shared about the Laura Ingalls Wilder traveling panels earlier in October. I was thrilled they would be fairly close to me in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area.

Please note: If you are reading this blog post in an email, you may not be able to see all images or click on links unless you go to the blog by clicking the title of today's blog post. 
I finally took a morning to visit the Milanof-Schock Library in Mount Joy, PA. The exhibit was small, but full of information! The display wove American history and Laura Ingall Wilder's life perfectly.

October 4, 2018

Apple Pie Recipe

As soon as Mother finished straining the milk, they all sat down and Father asked the blessing for breakfast.
There was oatmeal with plenty of thick cream and maple sugar. There were fried potatoes, and the golden buckwheat cakes, as many as Almanzo wanted to eat, with sausages and gravy or with butter and maple syrup. There were preserves and jams and jellies and doughnuts. But best of all Almanzo liked the spicey apple pie, with its thick, rich juice and its crumbly crust. He ate two wedges of the pie.  
                                                                                                ~ Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
 Apple pie for breakfast? Why not? It certainly has more fruit in it than most pastries and muffins. But it's a nice treat for dessert, too.

Some families continue the tradition of having a large Sunday dinner after church. My husband's family is one of them. Grandma may be 92, but she still makes a delicious pie each week. My favorite is her apple pie. Like many women of her generation, Grandma doesn't use a recipe to make apple pie. However, after watching her prepare the pie, this is my attempt at her apple pie recipe

Apple Pie Recipe

5-6 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced thinly
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Prepared double pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Place bottom pie crust in pie pan. Sprinkle half of the flour in the bottom pie crust.
3. Place sliced apples in a large bowl. Mix the apples with the sugar and remaining flour. Pour into the pie crust. (It's okay if the apple slices heap above the top of the pie pan.)
4. Sprinkle the apple slices with the cinnamon.
5. Place dots of butter all around the sliced apples.
6. Top with second pie crust. Seal and flute edges, as desired. Cut slits into the top crust for ventilation.
7. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 350°. Continue baking for 40-50 additional minutes. The pie is done when a knife slides into the apple filling easily.

If you haven't found a good recipe for pie crust, try this pie crust recipe. It explains how to make pie crust in detail.

What's your favorite kind of pie? Do you eat it for breakfast or dessert?

If you like this post, please consider signing up for my (infrequent) author newsletter.
Happy trails!
~ Annette Whipple