'Half pint's' whole story sells out - Laura Ingalls Wilder bio in high demand


America's favorite pioneer has already sold millions of books worldwide, and publishers of Laura Ingalls Wilder's latest annotated biography can't keep enough copies in stock.

Every copy of "Pioneer Girl" sold within days of its release in mid-November. Already the book is in its third reprinting with 45,000 coming in February, totaling 75,000 books in circulation.

The South Dakota State Historical Society Press was surprised by the demand. Publishers Weekly reports most of the sales are to bookstores and individuals instead of schools and libraries.

“It’s a big, thick academic book,’’ Jennifer McIntyre, SDSHSP marketing director, tells MinnPost. “We’re very proud of it, but our distributors were thrown for a loop by the demand.’’

The book, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, has more than 800 annotations with 472 pages and costs $40.

Wilder first wrote the book in 1929 and is geared to an adult audience. "Pioneer Girl" inspired the "Little House on the Prairie" children's book series. Wilder's daughter Rose Wilder Lane helped her mother edit and write her books. The first children's book was published in 1932.

According to MinnPost, the Little House books have been printed in more than 40 languages.

"Pioneer Girl" has a less sunny view of life on the prairie. The Boston Globe reports some of stories include "dead children, predatory teachers and innkeepers who killed their guests and buried them in the backyard."

Test your Laura Ingalls Wilder knowledge with this MPR quiz and listen to editor Pamela Smith Hill's conversation with MPR's Kerri Miller about the book.

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