If you have a small child, you know the middle-of-the-night drill: Loud snoring, lots of tossing and turning, mumbling in her sleep, clammy sheets, violently kicking those sheets off, migrating to your bed and then kicking you in the back all night... When she's finally awake, it turns out she's sick; so congested she is honking.
My little one has been sick before, of course. But the notion of a "sick day" -- a day home from school -- is a new one.
What do you do? Luckily for us, Monday is the day when Joe doesn't have to report to work till 4p. So he and Nia hung out -- played some board games & indoor hopscotch, watched a movie, and dressed up some Laura Ingalls Wilder-inspired paper dolls.
A couple of months ago, we decided to embark on the the epic journey that is the Little House books. We actually started them a year ago or so, with the "My First Little House Books," which are picture book versions of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. They are great; I'd recommend them to anyone.
The illustrations are gorgeous and the stories are sweet.
After reading many of these picture books, we decided to try some of the novels. We read Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, and On the Banks of Plum Creek. We even listened to a few of these as audio books.
So, yeah, we invested some real time in the Little House books.
I was excited to lose ourselves in some historical fiction, to give her a glimpse of how life was for little girls a hundred years plus years ago.
I wanted to like these books, I really did.
But, to be honest, I felt the novels had a little too much... well, detail.
There was more corporal punishment that I remembered from hearing them when I was a kid, there was the whole "kids should be seen and not heard" theme not to mention strict gender roles -- girls in the kitchen, guys outside (and Pa never includes Ma in decision-making), Pa's songs were more often then not racist (and inescapable on the audio version). And there was a lot of fear about Native Americans that was down right uncomfortable to read aloud. (Christine at The Aums blog wrote a great post about her misgivings about the Little House stories a few months back here.)
Nia enjoyed the books, for the most part. She asked a lot of questions and so we had some good discussions, but one of the things that Nia seemed to like the most about the Little House books was any mention of clothing. She poured over the illustrations, analyzing what Laura, Mary & Ma were wearing and how they fixed their hair. It was nice to read about the girls selecting new cloth for party dresses on a special occasion & Ma sewing their clothes, or Ma twisting their hair in rags to create curls over night.
So one day I searched for a book about the fashions of the time. What I came up with were Little House Paper Dolls -- brilliant!
Yesterday, when Nia stayed home from school, these got a lot of play time. For us, this seems to be the perfect solution to the Little House books having some good ideas but being a little undesirable in the full novel format. This way she could make her own stories with the dolls -- some of it from bits she remembered from the books, and some of it just out of her own imagination. And of course, here were the wonderful clothes we'd read about!
These are our first paper dolls & I'm impressed with them. They are really very well done: Beautifully crafted, colorful, high-quality. The dolls themselves are on thick card stock and the clothes are on fairly heavy-weight paper, too. The only thing that takes some patience is cutting everything out: Each doll has a variety of clothing and there are also props for each of the scenes (one outdoor and one inside the cabin).
What's nice is that you don't have to cut everything out at once: You can cut out an outfit for each member of the family one day, and then cut some more another day to extend the life of the toy.