Little House on the Library of America
One of the fun perks of being a writer (there are perks! I promise. It’s not all weeping over here, though it feels like it sometimes) is being part of the World of Publishing. Sometimes it feels like I’m a little teensy mote in the eye of the hugest creature in the sea, but other times it starts to feel a bit personal. To wit: I was contacted a few months ago by someone from the Library of America. They were putting out a two-volume boxed set of the Little House books and wondered if I might be interested in receiving a promo copy.
Why, yes. Yes I was.
Surely a two-volume set of the Little House books is relevant to my interests. I’m still ashamed of not currently owning a complete set, and I am eternally thumbing through the books I have for references and respite. Still, I felt a few reservations. How would LOA do with a set of children’s books? How could you publish the Little House books without Garth Williams’ incredible illustrations? (Yes, I know, the first editions of the books weren’t illustrated by GW at all, but his illustrations are among the most amazing in children’s literature, and they add a priceless dimension to the books I so love.)
My fears were assuaged when I received the books. It’s a two-volume set, nestled together in a nice-looking box. Each book has a pleasant heft, but isn’t too large. They have fancy built-in bookmarks and are surprisingly great to hold and touch.
Even better than holding two books full of some of my favorite volumes in the English language was a detail I’d overlooked when accepting LOA’s offer: the supplemental material. Each book is accompanied by essays and speeches by Laura herself, and each has a chronology of Laura’s life and notes. Notes. My dream of an annotated LHOP series has now been attained. My only complaint: The notes aren’t substantial enough! Perhaps I have been spoiled by such riches as WW. Norton’s The Annotated Secret Garden, but I wanted more notes. I am sure I am among only a small subset of the Earth’s population that requires more notes in books, but there you have it. I confess to immediately plopping down on the bed and reading the notes in both volumes from start to finish. It was lovely.
My verdict: The books are a pleasant surprise. It feels nice to have the stories there, all nestled next to each other, being respected as treasures of literature.
Want to learn more? Here’s an interview with the editor of the LOA edition.