Pierre, S.D. – South Dakota hit the trifecta with this one. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press recently published “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
This small state-owned publishing house has done exceptional work since first opening in 1997, bringing home 50 awards in 17 years. Their commitment to preserve and promote South Dakota’s culture and heritage is a goal that is also close to my heart.
Working with Author Pamela Smith Hill, who launched her professional writing career in South Dakota, the Pioneer Girl Project staff edited and produced Wilder’s autobiography 80 years after it was first penned.
The inside fold of the cover reads, “Hidden away since 1930, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s original autobiography reveals the true stories of her pioneering life. Some of her experiences will be familiar; some will be a surprise. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography re-introduces readers to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions of people around the world.
“Wilder details the Ingalls family’s journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory— sixteen years of travels, unforgettable stories, and the everyday people who became immortal through her fiction. Using additional manuscripts, diaries, and letters, editor Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and explores Wilder’s growth as a writer.”
Let’s not forget to mention that the cover art alone is simply remarkable. Judy Thompson’s whimsical “Silver Lake Reflections” captures the wild prairie with vivid detail.
Wilder’s own description of Silver Lake gave Thompson a visual for the painting that would later adorn the book cover of “Pioneer Girl.”
On the meet the artist page of the Pioneer Girl Project website, Thompson talks about her inspiration for her painting.
“Like Laura, I have a love for the prairie. Its wide horizons, wild grasses, and endless skies provide a boundless landscape for an artist to grow in, explore and create,” said Thompson. “In ‘Silver Lake Reflections,’ I wanted to portray Laura in her prairie setting as a young person who is inspired by the wild beauty which surround her Dakota home.”
Thompson discussed why she chose watercolor as the preferred medium for this piece.
“Watercolor is a very spontaneous medium which creates a fresh, free-flowing feeling to a painting – just right to portray the graceful grasses of the prairie and the wind, deep Dakota sky. The impressionistic style of this painting creates a sense of place without restricting the viewer’s imagination. Multiple washes of color provide just enough detail to describe the essence of the subject.”
I am utterly impressed with the talent and hard work put in to create such a vibrant book filled with unrestrained historical accuracies that paint a true picture of the hardships that coincided with the natural beauty of the plains.
If you wish to read more about the book or order your own copy follow this link to order it directly through South Dakota State Historical Society Press.
Sound off below: What do you think of this book and the cover artwork? Have you already added it to your reading list?