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Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography of pioneer girl a 'blockbuster'

The Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography 'Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography' sales have taken off. And sales are likely to get another lift from a Google Doodle on her 148th birthday.

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    Laura Ingalls Wilder: Google Doodle 148th birthday of the author.
    Google Doodle/Jack and Holman Wang
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The autobiography of prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder, which gives a grittier view of frontier living than her popular "Little House" series for children, is proving to be a blockbuster for the South Dakota Historical Society Press.

"Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography," edited by Pamela Smith Hill, was released in November by the small state-owned publishing house. The memoir, written for an adult audience, was the No. 1 best-seller on Amazon.com in late January and was still in the Top 10 on Friday, at No. 6.

"This is a definite blockbuster," publishing house director Nancy Tystad Koupal told the Rapid City Journal. "I'm surprised, delighted and excited that Laura Ingalls Wilder's work still has such resonance with readers."

Recommended: Laura Ingalls Wilder: 20 quotes on her birthday

Wilder wrote her autobiography in the early 1930s. By then, she had been settled on her Missouri farm for decades, but her early life took the Ingalls family on a journey that includes what today is Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota.

The initial print run of the book was 15,000 copies. A second run of 15,000 copies was made, and a third run of 45,000 copies is on the press. A fourth run is now being considered, according to Tystad Koupal.

"We have no cause for complaint, but just keeping up with the pace of it can be hard," she said. "We have no more staff than we had before, so it means everybody is working double time."

Sioux Falls native Katie Franke received "Pioneer Girl" as a gift from a co-worker and is displaying it on the coffee table in her Burnsville, Minnesota, home, while she reads it.

"Growing up in South Dakota, Laura Ingalls is kind of a topic you can't escape," Franke told the Argus Leader.

On Saturday, Google featured the opening scene from the TV show "Little House on the Prairie" in a doodle, marking the 148th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The artists, Jack and Holman Wang discussed the inspiration for their doodle art made of woo.

As children of the 70s and early 80s, we have fond memories of the Little House on the Prairie television show, which always seemed to be on (though for our young brains, the Mary-going-blind storyline was perhaps a little traumatizing!). Our Doodle, which shows Laura (brunette) and Mary (blond) running through the prairies, is loosely inspired by opening credits of the TV show, which depicts the Ingalls girls running down a hill.

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