Little Author in the Big Woods

A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Yona Zeldis McDonough; illustrations by Jennifer Thermes

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.


Read an Excerpt


Early Journeys




The Wisconsin woods were very big. The house was very small. Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was small too, a little girl in the big, big woods. She lived in a log cabin with her Pa, Ma, and older sister, Mary Amelia. The trees surrounding the house stood proud and tall. Oak, ash, and elm. Maple, butternut, and birch. The dense woods were home to many of the animals Pa hunted and trapped for their meat and skins. He farmed, too, in the clearings where the forest opened up and the land was exposed



Praise for Little Author in the Big Woods

Praise for Little Author in the Big Woods:

"This condensation of the long, peripathetic life of Laura Ingalls Wilder will intrigue fans of the Little House series." - Kirkus Reviews

"This biography draws parallels between Wilder's life and writing, featuring both hardships and joys of her experiences as a pioneer in the late 1800s and early 1900s . . . 'Little House' fans will find a lot to love here." - School Library Journal

Praise for Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott:

A Junior Library Guild Selection

"McDonough, appropriately for the audience, places the development of Louisa’s character over literary exegesis, and her words are harmoniously both accessible and expressive. . . . While too dense for the littlest of women (and men), middle-graders will be charmed by this first look at one of America’s most beloved authors." Kirkus Reviews


Praise for The Doll Shop Downstairs:

A 2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Choice

A 2012 New York State Reading Association (NYSRA) Charlotte Award Master List’s Selection

* "Mix one part Rumer Godden’s The Story of Holly and Ivy and many parts Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family and you create a standout family-and-doll story." Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "McDonough gives us a wholly original story. . . . Dolls and doll parts, a resourceful Mama and Papa and an appealing heroine and her sisters are all deftly drawn. . . . The Doll Shop Downstairs will become a classic." Jewish Book World, starred review

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Yona Zeldis McDonough; illustrations by Jennifer Thermes

  • Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of many books for children, including Sisters in Strength, Anne Frank, and Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott. Ms. McDonough lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    Jennifer Thermes is the author and illustrator of When I Was Built and Sam Bennett’s New Shoes, which was a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book. Her books as illustrator include the middle-grade novel Maggie & Oliver and The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! Jennifer also creates illustrated maps for magazine and book publishing clients.
  • Yona Zeldis McDonough
  • Jennifer Thermes


Available Formats and Book Details

Little Author in the Big Woods

A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Yona Zeldis McDonough; illustrations by Jennifer Thermes



Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)