Today is the birthday of the American writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose Little House on the Prairie saga captured the imagination of generations of children (and at least one TV producer).

Despite being a somewhat fictionalized version of her own life, the novels read like gospel truth to her fans—our reviewer Amy Scribner probably wasn't the only one to be shocked when she realized what section they were shelved in: "Did that mean that Laura Ingalls Wilder—whose braids and spunk I spent the better part of my childhood emulating—hadn’t really almost starved during the long winter, or fought with nasty Nellie Oleson, or fallen in love with Almanzo?"

That quote comes from our review of Wendy McClure's The Wilder Life, which chronicles McLure's obsessive quest to visit the settings of the series and the trappings of Laura's world—dirt houses, horehound candy, pig's bladder balloons and all. It was our nonfiction top pick back in April 2011—and the subject of a BookPage podcast.  If you've read the book, you can listen to our discussion here! (Or right-click to download to your computer.) If you haven't read the book yet, you can find an excerpt here.

If you could follow in the footsteps of one author, who would it be?

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