Wow. Some free advice from Uncle Matt - don't choose The Long Winter
as a read along with your toddler while at the same time reading [b:Oryx and Crake|46756|Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1)|Margaret Atwood|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327896599s/46756.jpg|3143431]. Atwood's dystopian nightmare's challenge enough. Throw in a claustrophobic account of near-starvation during a long, cold, blizzard laden winter and it's almost too much to bear in combination.The Long Winter
's unlike any of the other books in the Little House
series. The sense of foreboding and doom is palpable in the early chapters. Pa can't quite put his finger on what's wrong with the weather pattern, but he's wary of what's ahead for the winter. And when a tribal elder shows up to say beware of the upcoming once-in-a-generation hard and long winter, the feeling of unease deepens even further. The constant blizzards start in October and last into April. Supply trains can't get through. Hunger and fights over dwindling resources ensue. Donner party anyone? Okay, there's no cannibalism. I've been reading too many post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels...
To this point in the series, LIW has focused mainly on independence and freedom. The individual, or maybe the family unit, reigns supreme. Now that the Ingalls family is part of a newly formed town, The Long Winter
explores the balance between the individual and the common good. Where does profit motive give way to community need? Is there a place for individual heroism in the public/common sphere? Can individuals and groups thrive together? Of course they can. The challenge is finding the sweet spot between individuation and cooperation. Easier said than done! But the stakes are high. Entire regions teetering on the brink of starvation; questions of international aid's role in feeding masses of hungry people; debates over the potential impact of privatizing water resources; providing our children a world class education - where should we draw the line between public and private initiative? If anyone tells you they have the one right answer, they're full of it. That said, we have no choice but to keep trying to find an appropriate balance at any given time. Whatever the case may be, LIW shows that individual generosity and gumption play essential roles in determining the common good.
Yet another thought-provoking read along from LIW. Good stuff throughout this series!