Iona Robbins of Colon speaks with Little House on the Prairie expert Barb Hawkins.
By Kelly Pucci
Sturgis Journal correspondent
When Barb Hawkins retired from teaching 13 years ago, she didn’t envision turning her passion for a series of children’s books into a cottage industry or hiring her husband George as her marketing manager.
A life-long fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Hawkins began writing her own books about the famous author shortly after settling into life as a retiree in Applegate, a small town in Michigan’s thumb. Currently she has three books and two DVDs for sale. She and her husband operate a tour business solely dedicated to visiting places in six midwestern states mentioned in the Little House books.
As a leading expert on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Hawkins is frequently in demand as a speaker, bringing with her a slide show and over 100 books about Laura Ingalls Wilder.
She has given presentations in countries around the world including New Zealand and Japan. Last Wednesday, she visited Colon Township Library where an audience of 35 adults and children listened attentively; gasping when she uttered the name of Nellie Oleson, the mean girl who tormented Laura and laughing at stories about Laura’s dog Jack.
While few in the audience would trade the comforts of the 21st century for the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, a hard life marked by disease and poverty, they did enjoy munching on cornbread and oatmeal raisin cookies prepared according to traditional recipes.
Colon octogenarian Iona Robbins ventured out on a cold night to learn more about the life of itinerant Ingalls family.
When asked what she likes best about the Little House books, Breanna Kilbourn, a teenager from Three Rivers who attended with her grandmother, replied, “Everything! I’m sort of old-fashioned and I like old-fashioned stuff.”
Information about Hawkins’ books and tours is available at lhsitetours.homestead.com.
Library hosts expert on the
life of Laura Ingalls Wilder