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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley


Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley
Little House: The Martha Years Book 1
Paperback, 271 pages, Unabridged
HarperTrophy
February 1999
★★★★½
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Genre: Historical Fiction, YA

Source: Personal collection
“In Little House in the Highlands, we meet Martha Morse, a spirited six-year-old Scottish girl who will grow to be the great-grandmother of American pioneer and writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder. But, as a child, Martha’s main concern is how to cope with her life as a laird’s daughter. Martha has a restless spirit and would rather be running barefoot through the fields of heather and listening to magical tales about fairies and other Wee Folk than learning to sew like a proper young lady. 
Sprinkled with 18th-century Scottish vocabulary and filled with details of everyday life, Martha’s story will transport you to a time and place when fairies were rumored to roam the hills of Scotland and ever-curious little girls hoped to catch glimpses of them..”

This companion series to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series is perfect for young girls or those who are still young at heart. The Marta Years is a four book series covering the young years of Martha Morse, Laura’s great grandmother, in her home in Scotland. I would style this as an introduction into the series. We really get to meet Martha, her family, and are introduced to the way of life in Scotland in the 1770’s.

Martha is a spirited young girl. She would rather play outside with the boys and get dirty than stay inside practicing sewing, embroidering etc. She wants to go to school and grow up faster so that she can be like her 15 year old sister. Martha’s character is something that many young children, especially today, can relate to at least to some extent. I loved seeing the world from her point of view.

Wiley also does a fantastic job of interweaving the culture and customs of the Scots into this YA novel. We learn about tales children were told, hear mythology about fairies, brownies and magic. The book leads up to the big celebration of Hogmanay and we get involved in all of the details from how food is prepared to the games and gifts given. The language used when the characters speak to each other evokes the feel of Scottish while still being words that a young reader would be able to grasp and understand. She also includes traditional Scottish terms, for example, haggis, and is always careful to explain these terms.

For a young reader this book has just enough excitement and adventure to keep them entertained while still teaching them about the Scottish culture and building up to the traditional Little House series. For an adult reader the pages will fly by and you will be done before you know it – but it is still quite an enjoyable read!

Please be aware that this series is currently out of print, but can often be found on Ebay or Half.com - but you have to look often because they can be exorbitantly priced.  There was also an abridged version of many of these books released (but really how do you abridge a less than 300 page YA book!).  I would advise trying to check your local libraries for these books.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
**Please note that the version available for purchase is not the same one I read, but an abridged version**

Also in the Little House Series:

There are 5 series of books within the Little House Series each focusing on a different family member of Laura’s.  They are not all written by the same author.

the far side of the loch
The Far Side of the Loch (Martha #2)
[My Review]

down to the bonny glen
Down to the Bonny Glen (Martha #3)
[My Review]

beyond the heather hills
Beyond the Heather Hills (Martha #4)

little house by boston bay
Little House by Boston Bay (Charlotte #1)

on tide mill lane
On Tide Mill Lane (Charlotte #2)

the road from roxbury
The Road from Roxbury (Charlotte #3)

across the puddingstone dam
Across the Puddingstone Dam (Charlotte #4)

little house in brookfield
Little House in Brookfield (Caroline #1)

little town at the crossroads
Little Town at the Crossroads (Caroline #2)

little clearing in the woods
Little Clearing in the Woods (Caroline #3)

on top of concord hill
On Top of Concord Hill (Caroline #4)

across the rolling river
Across the Rolling River (Caroline #5)

little city by the lake
Little City by the Lake (Caroline #6)

A Little House of Their Own
A Little House of Their Own (Caroline #7)

little house in the big woods
Little House in the Big Woods (Laura #1)

little house on the prairie
Little House on the Prairie (Laura #2)

farmer boy
Farmer Boy (Laura #3)

on the banks of plum creek
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Laura #4)

by the shores of silver lake
By the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura #5)

the long winter
The Long Winter (Laura #6)

little town at the crossroads
Little Town on the Prairie (Laura #7)

these happy golden years
These Happy Golden Years (Laura #8)

the first four years
The First Four Years (Laura #9)

on the way home
On the Way Home (Laura #10)

west from home
West from Home (Laura #11)

little house on rocky ridge
Little House on Rocky Ridge (Rose #1)

little farm in the ozarks
Little Farm in the Ozarks (Rose #2)

In the Land of the Big Red Apple
In the Land of the Big Red Apple (Rose #3)

On the Other Side of the Hill
On the Other Side of the Hill (Rose #4)

little town in the ozarks
Little Town in the Ozarks (Rose #5)

new dawn on rocky ridge
New Dawn on Rocky Ridge (Rose #6)

on the banks of the bayou
On the Banks of the Bayou (Rose #7)

Bachelor Girl
Bachelor Girl (Rose #8)


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