Growing up With Little House

6c84d49eb737e4ba5f48b625c94aa5c8On February 10, 1957, the Little House on the Prairie went dark, forever, marking the passing of its creator and beloved author, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Twelve years later, at the age of five, and on the brink of becoming an avid reader, I moved to Europe with my family.

We spent six wonderful years in Switzerland, highlighted by coming home every summer for a month-long leave filled with friends and family reunions, back-to-school shopping trips, and magical visits to the book section of Sibley’s department store. My sister, Maureen, and I spent hours browsing the book-lined walls, seeking out new adventures in reading, our arms filling like overflowing baskets until we couldn’t hold anymore.

Maureen, who loved everything horses, favored two series in particular: The Silver Brumby, and Flicka. But I was drawn to the stories of a little girl growing up in the Midwest in the 1870s; Pa, Ma, and Laura’s sisters Mary and Carrie, became my family, too. I hated the bully, Nellie Olson, and loved the farmer boy, Almanzo Wilder, the author’s future husband. I was never happier than when I was reading a Little House story, and it crushed me to close the book on Laura and her family after reading all eight titles in the series; they were far too precious to donate to a library or hawk at a yard sale, instead I read them again, repeatedly.

Fifty-nine years after her passing, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories live on. The original Little House books have remained continuously in print since their publication in the 1930s and early 1940s. In a 2012 survey published by School Library Journal, Little House in the Big Woods was ranked number 19 among all-time best children’s novels.  Wilder’s stories have been adapted for television and stage as well.  As for me, the Little House books hold a place of honor, front and center, on my bookcase where the reading light never goes out.

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Heart To Heart

February is National Heart Month, 28 days (29 in a Leap Year), dedicated to promoting and keeping our hearts healthy.  Nestled beneath a fortress-like rib cage, we protect our most important organ like a precious Valentine, but sadly, our hearts are not always safe.  In fact, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U. S. today, responsible for a staggering 2,200 deaths per day.

But the American Heart Association (AHA) is working to change that with a few simple tips for keeping our hearts beating strong and true.

  1. Healthy eating.  You don’t have to be a professional chef to prepare healthy and tasty foods for you and your family to enjoy.  Start by picking up fresh, wholesome ingredients at the grocery store, and delicious, nutritious recipes will follow.
  2. Get physical. Walk, jog, hike, bike, swim,  or dance; it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it gets you moving and your heart pumping.  Calculate your target heart rate, then get set, ready, go!
  3. Weigh In. As the AHA says, ‘Master the Scale!’ by reducing the number of calories you take in eating and drinking, and increasing the number of calories burned by being active. Managing your weight is easier when you think of it as a team effort.
  4. Don’t Stress. No one is immune to it, but stress affects us all in different ways. Fortunately, there are also many means to managing stress when it strikes. Exercise, enjoy a hot bath, get a relaxing massage, or dare we suggest, read a good book?

At Brown Corliss Books, we’re also working to bring special attention to National Heart month, and keeping our readers heart-healthy. Please join us, Thursday, February 11th at The Copper Pelican gift shop in Tiverton, Rhode Island, for an evening of ‘Wine, Chocolate & Good Books.’ Enjoy wine tasting, and sample locally-made chocolates while shopping for the perfect gift for your Valentine; on this night, a portion of all sales will benefit The American Heart Association.   We hope to see you there.

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