Farmer Boy

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Other authorsGarth Williams (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1953

Call number



HarperCollins (1953), 384 pages


Nine-year-old Almanzo lives with his family on a big farm in New York State at the end of the nineteenth century. He raises his own two calves, helps cut ice and shear sheep, and longs for the day he can have his own colt.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Whisper1
I've never read the Little House on the Prairie books. When I found three of them, including this one, at a neighborhood yard sale, I couldn't resist paying .10 for each.

While some who don't understand the appeal of YA works may scoff at this series, I found this book to be delightfully
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The beauty and charm lies in the simplicity of rural farm life in the 19th century. Written from the perspective of ten year old Almanzo Wilder, there is a rhythm and lyrical quality throughout.

Nothing earth scattering occurs, and unlike many YA books where there is a coming of age theme, this story veers off the path of that direction and instead, like a babbling brook, quietly pulls the reader into the tale of a young man with a solid, hard-working family who care about each other and do what has to be done to make a living.

Harkening back to a time when the items we now call necessities were not available, there were charming descriptions of soft candle light shining through the window on hard crusted icy snow, of sleigh rides to church, of one room school houses, of planting seeds by hand and of sheering sheep, dying wool and sewing clothes.

This week was a bear at work and each night I arrived home tired and stressed, this was exactly what I needed to read -- a wonderful tale that provided relaxation and smiles.

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LibraryThing member Zathras86
I came back to this old childhood favorite because I am spending this summer working on a small vegetable farm. These books are every bit as wonderful as they were when I first read them as a child, although I notice different things now.

This is certainly an idealized version of 19th-century
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American farming - the Wilder family farm is wonderfully prosperous and the main hardship of the story is that Almanzo's father does not think he is old enough to help train the horses. I suppose the fact that adults always idealize their own childhood, combined with the fact that this childhood was something Laura Ingalls Wilder heard about secondhand from her husband rather than experienced firsthand, leads to it being even more sugar-coated than the other books. But it's still incredibly charming, and there is something that appeals to me about the view of life and morality presented here - the incredible self-sufficiency of the farm is incredible to read about, and makes me secretly wish I had as many useful skills as any given character in the novel.

The book also rivals the Redwall series with endless descriptions of mouth-watering meals. I wish I could eat like that as often as these characters do!
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LibraryThing member elljazz
Since my first four children are boys, I thought Farmer Boy would be the perfect introduction for them to the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The hero of this story is Almanzo Wilder, a spunky country boy who is only 9 years old when the story opens.

Almanzo lives in New York State in the late 19th
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century with his mother and father, older brother Royal, and two sisters, Eliza Jane and Alice. Almanzo is the youngest. They live in the days of horse drawn carriages, home made dinners, no electricity and the one room school house.

Mrs. Wilder draws us into the story immediately with a dangerous situation in the school house. A new teacher is in town and he has to deal with the Hardscrabble boys. These are older boys, really young men, who have taunted and provoked previous teachers. They beat one teacher so badly that he died. Mild mannered Mr. Corse has taken the position and with the help of Almanzo’s dad, comes up with a very politically incorrect (by our standards) but effective way of dealing with these ruffians and saving the school year for the other children.

This is just one of the very exciting adventures in this book. I found as I was reading it to my children, that I could pick out virtually any chapter and find an exciting story that could stand by itself, with Almanzo right in the middle of it. From falling through the ice, to saving the crops from freezing, a mysterious stray dog, to trying to prove his maturity to Father, this book captivated my sons and even my 7-year-old daughter!

My kids particularly enjoyed Mrs. Wilder’s description of food and meals. She describes everything so wonderfully that you can almost smell the odors and taste the food.

“Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a tall heap of pal mashed turnips and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed and tucked his napkin deeper into the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves and strawberry jam, and grape jelly and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie.”


What strikes me throughout the book was that there was a rhythm and circle to life that had to be followed for survival. When it was time to cut ice for the year, it was time to cut ice. If you waited too long or started too early, you would not have enough ice to last until next year. When it was time to plant, everyone worked to get the crops in. When it was time to harvest everyone worked hard then too. There was also no waist. Every bit of the crop was used. When a pig or a steer was butchered, all the parts of the animal were used for food, clothing and even making soap and candles.

Although Almanzo and his siblings work well together, they still have their squabbles. One of the more endearing parts of the book was an exchange between Eliza Jane and Almanzo that could have been real trouble for Almanzo, and upsetting for mother. However, but Eliza Jane out compassion for her brother and sorrow for her own part in it, makes things right.

The book has much humor in to. Our favorite part came in the end when the town tightwad tries to tip Almanzo with a nickel, and Almanzo quips that he wouldn’t take his nickel, because, “I can’t change it!”

For an authentic look at what life was like just before the 20th century, I would highly recommend this book. If I wanted to pass on the importance of hard work and preparation, I think Farmer Boy also illustrates those lessons well. But most importantly it’s an uplifting story of a family that works together as a team, and a little boy trying to grow-up and reach his dreams.
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LibraryThing member ashleytylerjohn
Sweet, gentle, good-natured story, without a lot of story there, but an awful lot of step by step instruction. I don't want to infringe copyright, but every chapter consisted of something virtually beat-for-beat like this:

"Mother opened her internet browser. She typed in the URL for Goodreads.
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Then, she clicked on the book she was reading, and marked it Finished. In a short while, a new screen opened where she could review the book. First, she rated the book, so she could remember whether she like it when coming back to this page. Then, she selected appropriate tags, so other people might be able to find the book better when searching. Only then did she begin to write her review."

It gets a bit wearing having a series of how-to manuals of early American accomplishments, rather than actual plot. The plot is pretty much Almanzo wants something, and (no spoiler here) at the very end he either gets it or doesn't get it, done. There's no rich reservoir of supporting characters, no thrilling subplots, it almost defies the very notion of a novel. But it's sweet, it's gentle, and if you're father's dying in the hospice at the moment it's an easy book to distract yourself with.
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LibraryThing member Marse
"Farmer Boy", about the childhood of Alonzo Wilder who will become Laura Ingalls' husband in the future, would be a great book to have if ever an electromagnetic pulse disables all electronics worldwide and everyone is forced to farm their own food from scratch. The details of farming: planting,
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reaping, threshing, etc., plus other practical skills such as shoe making, breaking calves to a harness, ice cutting, and other lost arts (for the layperson) are explained in straightforward, comprehensible language and augmented by Garth Williams wonderful drawings. Most everything that goes into living on a farm seems to be here. We also get to know what the life of a 9 year old boy is like in those times: lots of hard work, often getting up before dawn, and rarely, going to school. But on the other hand, the descriptions of the meals (and they are plentiful) are mouth-watering. Not much in way of a plot, more of a 'year in the life of' a boy, whose ardent goal is to have his own horse to train. The farm is somewhere in New York state, and Laura Ingalls is not part of the story as yet.
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LibraryThing member MerryMary
Almanzo Wilder's boyhood on a New York farm in the 1850s or '60s. The picture painted is idyllic - my guess is Laura found his childhood so much more settled and prosperous than her own, that she emphasized those characteristics.
LibraryThing member rainbowdarling
The third story in the series is an interesting departure. Instead of telling the next chapter of Laura's life, it tells a bit of Almanzo's. The Wilder family is different than the Ingalls family somewhat. The family at this point of the story is still in New York State and that provides a
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different picture of life than that of life on the prairie frontier. It gives us a little idea of who this Almanzo Wilder is, too, before he reappears later in the story. Of all the stories, I enjoyed this one, but it was my least favorite because of its departure from the story of Laura's family. It feels like an interjection rather than being a part of a chronological telling of the story. All the same, the characters in it are interesting and I felt like I was actually there thanks to the descriptions within. It's a good story that just doesn't seem like a true part of the book series.
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LibraryThing member mrsarey
This third volume of the Little House books takes a detour to tell the story of a year in the life of Almanzo Wilder, Laura's future husband, when he was ten. It shows how Almanzo always wanted to break horses and work a farm, and how he and his father had a special relationship.
LibraryThing member FMRox
Read these as a child and loved them all. I had the 9 boxed set volume.
LibraryThing member gillis.sarah
For some reason, I hesitated for quite some time before reading this book. I know that I finished the rest of the 'Little House' series before moving on to this one, and while I don't remember why, I know that I"m glad I finally read 'Farmer Boy'. It became one of my favorite books of the 'Little
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House' series, and I think it might have been because of the way Laura Ingalls Wilder portrayed her future husband. Almanzo's character doesn't have any of the inner conflict that Laura's character always seems to in the other 'Little House' books, or at least his conflicts are more clear-cut. There is none of the urge to be a tomboy, with the knowledge that you shouldn't be, because he doesn't have to worry about stuff like that. I especially enjoy the descriptions of ice-cutting and the county fair, for some reason. Another book that I could open to any chapter right now and enjoy what I read immensely.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Unlike the Ingalls, the Wilders are well off. Almanzo is a sweet boy who just loves colts! We (me and the kids) particularly loved the week that the kids were left alone - although I sternly told my own kids not to get any ideas!
LibraryThing member wordygirl39
Almanzo's story always annoyed me as an OCD child--I felt I had to read the series in order (every time), and it was such an interruption in the life of Laura--and of course we really don't get why until Little Town on the Prairie when Almanzo shows up again, briefly. Anyway...I like this book,
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now. I like that Laura wrote about what Manly was doing when he was young, and the reader gets a whole different picture of America at that period of history. Good book, but it will never be my favorite of the series.
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LibraryThing member selfcallednowhere
When I first read the Little House books with my mom, I skipped this one cos I was like, "I don't want to hear about a stupid boy!" But I actually ended up quite enjoying it, almost as much as the ones about Laura. It had the same historical detail that made me enjoy the other ones so much.
LibraryThing member sharese
The life of Laura Ingalls Wilder's husband as a child is told in the style in which she told about her own childhood. He grew up as a farmer's child in NY with all the responsiblities of a farm. It's a great chapter book meant to be read and understood by children. Always a classic.

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really enjoyed this book and all that LIW wrote. I truly loved Almonzo's father's character and he reminded me very much of Laura's Pa in the way he thought about the world and what he wanted for his children. The adventures he had with his sister and brother are great to read and really have great family values behind all the words.
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LibraryThing member marietybur
No one can describe food like Laura Wilder, or what it feels like to be a kid and the youngest in a family of bossy sisters.
LibraryThing member skier123
Alonzo lives on a farm. He faces challenges such as an accident in the pantry and many more. This is a great book.
LibraryThing member Crewman_Number_6
Very good, but definitely my least favorite in the series. I got tired of hearing the minutia of Almanzo's cows. I think really it just lacked the adventure of her other books.
LibraryThing member eesti23
Farmer Boy is the third book in the Little House on the Prairie series and focuses on the young Almanzo Wilder. In the future Almanzo and Laura Ingalls will marry but for now the book focuses on Almazo's youth from his education, both in and out of school, and home/family life.

I really enjoyed
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this book in the series, especially because it showed the differences between Almanzo's more luxurious childhood compared to Laura's less luxurious childhood.
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LibraryThing member ranaemathias
This is the third book in the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It chronicles one year in the young life of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, when he was growing up on a farm in New York in the late 1800s. At nine, Almanzo has many chores: feeding the stock, milking the cows, planting, tending
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and harvesting the crops, butchering, carpentry and many others as needed around his family's farm. Most of all, he wants desperately to train and work with his father's horses, but he is too young. He learns the value of a half-dollar- whether to spend 5 cents to buy a pink lemonade which will be gone in minutes, or spend it all on a baby pig which will produce more pigs. He learns reading, writing and arithmetic in school, but is happier learning practical things from his father on the farm. He understands that children "must be seen and not heard" at the dinner table and that everyone in the family must do their part to run the farm. Boys will especially enjoy the adventures Almanzo has growing up in rural New York.
This book, like all of her others, tells a good story with authentic facts about life at this time. Her use of language and expressions from this time period add to the authenticity of the story. Children may need a few phrases and customs of the time explained. Values and mannerisms of the time period are reflected in the language and dialogue used in the story. This story is a great example of what life was like 150 years ago. Students will be surprised to find how easy they really live today.
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LibraryThing member amandamay83
I knew I hadn't read all the Little House books, but I was sure I'd read this one. I was wrong. I loved it, though! I even teared up and burst out laughing a couple times. And such a striking contrast, Almanzo's childhood and Laura's.

So glad I'm taking the time to read and re-read all of these.
LibraryThing member amerynth
Laura Ingalls Wilder tells stories from her husband Almanzo's childhood in this book. The stories were interesting in that they really show how much work there was to do in every season while working a farm. It isn't one of my favorite Wilder books, however, because I found the stories lacked the
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personal charm of her own -- (with the exception of the wallpaper incident--) this is more of a story about a year of farm life than anecdotes about a particular family.
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LibraryThing member BoundTogetherForGood
I read this to Aaron and Marlo in January 2001. I began reading it to Matthew and Elijah sometime while we lived in the UK. Eventually Gigi and I reached the point we were ready to begin this book so I stopped and began it again, for her. We love the whole series of books, as well as the television
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LibraryThing member Kiwiria
It took me quite awhile to read this one the first time around, because I didn't originally think that a book not about Laura could possibly be as good. I don't know why I thought that, seeing as it was the same person writing them, and fortunately my mum talked me into reading it. Now, it's one of
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my favourite of the series. It has a lot more explaining how they do this or that, but that doesn't bother me at all, since lots of this is completely new to me. I also like the fact that this book spans over almost exactly one year, so you get to see how life on a farm was back in those days.
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LibraryThing member EmmanuelDA
Laura Ingles Wilder probably read alot when she was a kid. I can tell. Farmer boy is my proof. Long and perfect.
LibraryThing member silversurfer
Charming book about young Almanzo's life growing up on the Wilder farm, in New York in the 1800's. He is only 10 years old, a long way off from becoming Laura's future husband, but this book sets the tone for his personality. The descriptive narrative is amazing. You really fel like you are there,
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sitting down to Christmas dinner. You can almost smell the aroma of all the varied foods on the table. Farm life was hard and Laura's story about Almanzo's growing up, makes me appreciate the life I live today.
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