Book Spotlight: Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life

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Posted: April 16, 2019

Category: Staff Picks

Book cover - a blonde girlCharlotte’s family moves a lot. Pretty much every time they move, her mom leaves behind unpaid rent and Charlotte’s younger sister Rose leaves behind her newest set of friends. Charlotte and her twin brother Freddy have learned not to bother creating anything they might have to leave behind.

This time the family is moving to Walnut Grove, Minnesota because her mother has been “called” by the spirit of Laura Ingalls to write a children’s novel about the prairies. Rose is excited about the move, but Charlotte and Freddy have their doubts.

All three children survive their first day at school, but then Charlotte becomes ill and misses the rest of the week. During that short interval, Freddy becomes very popular with a group of boys and spends most of his time hanging out with them. Charlotte feels like she’s lost her best friend along with any chance she had to join a group at school.

The schoolwork side of things isn’t going any better, either. The students are assigned to write an essay about Laura Ingalls, and Charlotte simply writes “Laura Ingalls is ruining my life!” Instead of failing Charlotte, Mrs. Newman orders her to expand the essay and provide a full explanation as to how Laura Ingalls ruined her life.

Charlotte obliges Mrs. Newman by re-writing the essay and hands it in again. However, Mrs. Newman isn’t finished with her. To punish Charlotte for the lies she tells to avoid eating lunch in the cafeteria, Mrs. Newman assigns additional readings on the settler experience in the prairies and requires her to volunteer at the Ingalls Museum.

A combination of Mrs. Newman’s persistence, a few new friends, and a better attitude help Charlotte gradually adjust to life in Walnut Grove. But just as things are getting better for Charlotte, her mom decides to change her book’s focus, then fails to make any progress on it, and finally starts to act the way she does prior to every one of the family’s previous moves.

Will Charlotte’s mom finish her book? Will Charlotte ever recover her closeness with Freddy? Can Charlotte find a way to stay in Walnut Grove?

Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life by Shelley Tougas is shelved upstairs in the juvenile fiction section of the Children’s Department.

If you enjoy Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life, you may also enjoy A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. Felicity and her family move to Midnight Gulch, a town whose magic has faded. However, some small snippets of it remain: an ice cream that prompts memories, the Beedle, and the annual Stoneberry Duel. Felicity also has her own kind of magic – an ability to see words around people and things. After just a short time in Midnight Gulch, Felicity becomes determined to stay in town and find a way to restore its magic. A Snicker of Magic is also shelved in the juvenile fiction section.

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