On the Banks of Plum Creek

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On the Banks of Plum Creek
First edition
Author Laura Ingalls Wilder
Illustrator Helen Sewell
Mildred Boyle
Country United States
Language English
Series Little House
Genre Family Saga
Publisher Harper & Brothers
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Preceded by Little House on the Prairie (novel)
Followed by By the Shores of Silver Lake

On the Banks of Plum Creek is a children's book written in 1937 by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The fourth of nine books written in her Little House series, it is based on Laura's childhood at Plum Creek near Walnut Grove, Minnesota in the late nineteenth century.


Having left their little house on the Kansas prairie, the Ingalls family travels by covered wagon to Minnesota and settles in a dugout on the banks of Plum Creek. Pa trades his horses Pet and Patty to the property owner (a man named Hanson, who wants to go west) for the land and crops. He later gets two new horses as Christmas presents for the family, which Laura and her sister Mary name "Sam" and "David". Pa soon builds a new, above-ground, wooden house for the family, trusting that their first crop of wheat will pay for the lumber and materials.

Now that they live near a town, Laura and Mary go to school for the first time. There they make friends, but also meet the town storekeeper's daughter, Nellie Oleson, who makes fun of Laura and Mary for being "country girls." Laura and Mary attend a party at the Olesons' home, and Ma has Laura and Mary invite all the girls (including Nellie) to a party at their house to reciprocate.

The family goes through very hard times when grasshoppers (actually Rocky Mountain Locusts) decimate the much-anticipated wheat crop, and lay so many eggs that there is no hope of a crop the following year. For two harvest seasons, Pa is forced to walk three hundred miles east to find work on farms that escaped the grasshopper plague.

The book ends with Laura's father returning safely to the house after becoming lost near their home during a severe four-day blizzard. Laura is portrayed in this book as being seven to nine years old.

Walnut Grove[edit]

Although Plum Creek (in Redwood County, Minnesota) is near the town of Walnut Grove, the name of the town is not mentioned in the book.