This summer, I will read to you from a book called The Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I will only read the first chapter as an introduction. Each chapter in this book stands on its own. It is about a little girl who grows up in the American wilderness about a hundred and fifty years ago. At the time America was an undeveloped country without modern factories, electricity, roads or cars.
To make reading easier I will add definitions or notes in brackets after the first time less common words are used. So there will be many bracketed notes at the beginning and few at the end. I will only make minor changes to the original text to use UK spelling or to simplify meanings. If you like the book, I will tell you where to get a copy at the end of the summer.
Once upon a time, long ago in America, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin (a place in America), in a little grey house made of logs (whole tree trunks).
(The name “Big Woods” would not normally be capitalised, however the author treats a few common nouns, such as “Butchering Time”, as if they were proper nouns because the story is told from a child's perspective.)
The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house, and beyond them were other trees and beyond them were more trees. As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods. There were no houses. There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them.
Wolves lived in the Big Woods, and bears, and huge wild cats. Muskrats (small hairy animals that live in rivers) and mink (a small hairy animal whose fur is used for coats) and otter (thin small hairy animals that live in rivers) lived by the streams (small rivers). Foxes had dens (animal homes) in the hills and deer roamed (walked) everywhere.
To the east of the little log house, and to the west, there were miles upon miles of trees, and only a few little log houses scattered far apart in the edge of the Big Woods.
So far as the little girl could see, there was only the one little house where she lived with her Father and Mother, her sister Mary and baby sister Carrie. A wagon track (dirt road) ran before the house, turning and twisting (not straight) out of sight in the woods where the wild animals lived, but the little girl did not know where it went, nor what might be at the end of it.
The little girl was named Laura and she called her father, Pa, and her mother, Ma. In those days and in that place, children did not say Father and Mother, nor Mamma and Papa, as they do now.