On the Banks of Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek
On the Banks of Plum Creek  
Author(s) Laura Ingalls Wilder
Country United States
Language English
Series Little House
Genre(s) Family Saga
Publisher Harper & Brothers, Later, Scholastic
Publication date 1937
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Preceded by Farmer Boy (novel)
Followed by By the Shores of Silver Lake

On the Banks of Plum Creek is a children's book written in 1937 by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The fourth of nine books written in her Little House series, it is based on Laura's childhood at Plum Creek near Walnut Grove, Minnesota in late 19th Century.


The Ingalls family moves from Kansas to Minnesota and settle in a dugout "on the banks of Plum Creek" as in the book's title. Pa trades his horses Pet and Patty to the property owner (a man named Hanson) for the land and crops, but later gets two new horses as Christmas presents for the family, which Laura and her sister Mary name "Sam" and "David". Pa soon builds a new, above-ground, wooden house for the family.

During this story, Laura and Mary go to school for the first time where they meet their teacher, Miss Eva Beadle. They also meet Nellie Oleson, who makes fun of Laura and Mary for being "country girls." Laura plays with her bulldog Jack when she is home, and she and Mary are invited to a party at the Olesons' home. Laura and Mary invite all the girls (including Nellie) to a party at their house to reciprocate. The family soon goes through hard times when a plague of Rocky Mountain Locusts decimate their crops. The book ends with Laura's Pa returning safely to the house after being unaccounted for during a severe four-day blizzard. Laura is portrayed in this book as being seven to nine years old.

Walnut Grove

Although the Ingalls family lived near Walnut Grove, Minnesota during the events described in this book,[citation needed] the name of the town is not mentioned in the book.

Historical background

In real life, the Ingalls family moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin. Laura and Mary already had attended school in Wisconsin. The school was in Pepin and its name was Barry Corner School. Laura was only four when she started it which made her the youngest student. Unfortunately, neither in Pepin nor in Walnut Grove could the girls attend school on a regular basis.

Jack, the family bulldog, did not come with the Ingalls family to Plum Creek. However, her readers liked Jack so much that Laura decided to include him in this book, and also in the early chapters of By the Shores of Silver Lake. Laura used Jack's death as the transition from Laura's childhood to her adolescence.

Another difference between the book and Laura's life was the birth of her brother, Charles Frederick Ingalls. However, the baby died in 1876 when Laura's father moved his family to her Uncle Peter's farm in South Troy, Minnesota, and then on to Burr Oak, Iowa. That was a painful time for the family, so Laura never included her baby brother in her books (see : Old Town in the Green Groves).

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