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A typical travel book takes readers along on a trip with the author, but a great travel book does much more than that, inviting readers along on a mental and spiritual journey as well. This distinction is what separates Nancy McCabe’s From Little Houses to Little Women from the typical and allows it to take its place not only as a great travel book but also as a memoir about the children’s books that have shaped all of our imaginations.
McCabe, who grew up in Kansas just a few hours from the Ingalls family’s home in Little House on the Prairie, always felt a deep connection with Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series. McCabe read Little House on the Prairie during her childhood and visited Wilder sites around the Midwest with her aunt when she was thirteen. But then she didn’t read the series again until she decided to revisit in adulthood the books that had so influenced her childhood. It was this decision that ultimately sparked her desire to visit the places that inspired many of her childhood favorites, taking her on a journey that included stops in the Missouri of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Minnesota of Maud Hart Lovelace, the Massachusetts of Louisa May Alcott, and even the Canada of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
From Little Houses to Little Women reveals McCabe’s powerful connection to the characters and authors who inspired many generations of readers. Traveling with McCabe as she rediscovers the books that shaped her and ultimately helped her to forge her own path, readers will enjoy revisiting their own childhood favorites as well.
About the Author
Nancy McCabe is Professor and Director of the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and a faculty member in the brief-residency MFA program in creative writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is the author of three previous books, including Meeting Sophie: A Memoir of Adoption and Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge: A Journey to My Daughter's Birthplace in China (both University of Missouri Press). She lives in Bradford, Pennsylvania.
"From Little Houses to Little Women brings a refreshing new thoughtfulness to the familiar, comforting act of revisiting our favorite childhood books. McCabe’s insightful readings and wryly observed travelogue make this an essential book for any classic children’s literature fan."—Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie
"From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood is a triple delight. Nancy McCabe takes her readers on nostalgic journeys back into those books that she and many of us read as children, as well as on literal journeys to the settings of those stories and the homes of their authors. At the same time, she presents her childhood responses to works by Wilder, Montgomery, Dickinson, Lovelace, and others, as well as her skillful assessment as an English professor. This layered approach to the literature is both provocative and satisfying. From Little Houses to Little Women is beautifully written, and McCabe is a frank, enlightening, down-to-earth, and immensely likeable traveling companion."—Lisa Knopp, What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte "As a practicing writer of fiction, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of childhood reading. How enlightening it has been to read Nancy McCabe's account here, to share and compare both our childhood experiences and adult ruminations! Nancy's account of her car tour with her daughter inspired me to make my own visit to Mansfield, MO, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books. Childhood reading did more than delight; it resonates in who we are today."—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife; Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette; The Fountain of St. James Court, or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman
"McCabe's book is a thorough accounting of—not to mention a more-than-fair contemporary reassessment of—the books she took at face value as a child and which still exert an inordinate amount of influence over our culture at large. It's also a funny, heartwarming account of dragging her moody, occasionally car-sick tween daughter Sophie through the minor literary museums of the sweltering Midwest and seeing her girlhood heroes through her daughter's unflinching, critical Generation-Z eyes, for better or for worse."—The Louisville Review
"As a practicing writer of fiction, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of childhood reading. How enlightening it has been to read Nancy McCabe's account here, to share and compare both our childhood experiences and adult ruminations! Nancy's account of her car tour with her daughter inspired me to make my own visit to Mansfield, MO, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books. Childhood reading did more than delight; it resonates in who we are today."—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife; Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette; The Fountain of St. James Court, or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman