Rose & Alva
Rose Wilder is lonely on the family farmuntil she meets Alva Stubbins. From catching crawdads to exploring caves to picking pokeweed, Rose and Alva have all kinds of Ozark adventures!
The Rose Chapter Books are part of an ongoing series of Little House Chapter Books.
About the Author
Roger Lea MacBride, a close friend of Rose Wilder Lane's, was the author of the Rose Years novels.
Doris Ettlinger, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, has illustrated many books for children. She lives in Warren County, New Jersey.
Read an Excerpt
A New Friend
Rose Wilder lived in a little log cabin in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Rose and her mama and papa had moved to their new farm in Missouri from South Dakota.
Mama named the new farm Rocky Ridge because the land was very rocky. They were going to grow apple trees on the farm, but the trees were all very small. It would be many years before they had an apple crop to sell. So, for now, Mama and Papa were making do with what they had.
Rose was always busy helping Mama and Papa around the farm. But on Sundays, she was allowed to play. She loved to explore in the woods around the farm with her little dog, Fido.
One Sunday after dinner, Rose decided to follow the little stream that ran near their log cabin to see where it went. She walked down a hill and through a thick patch of trees. Fido stayed close at her heels, until he heard a rustling sound. Then he disappeared into the bushes.
At the bottom of the hill, the little stream turned into a bigger creek. Rose walked along the banks until she came to a tree she had never seen before. The tree had yellow and white fruits the size of plums hanging from its branches. A few of the fruits had fallen and smashed on the ground. The air around the tree smelled sweet. Honeybees buzzed everywhere.
Rose knew she shouldn't eat the fruit without asking Mama first. But she thought that if the bees liked it, she would like it, too.
She bent down and touched her finger to one of the fallen fruits. The juice tasted sweet, almost as sweet as a plum. So she stood up and picked a beautiful yellow-orange fruit from the tree. Slowly she took a smallbite.
At first, the taste was nothingnot sweet, but not tart, either. It was just a bit crunchy. Then she felt a strange roughness in her mouth. Her tongue began to shrivel. Her whole mouth turned dry as dust.
It was the worst thing Rose had ever tasted! She began to cough. Tears welled up in her eyes. She thought she was being poisoned.
Then she heard laughter. She whirled around and saw a freckle-faced girl standing nearby. The girl was about her size, and she was wearing a bright-yellow calico dress. Her fiery red hair was pulled into pigtails. Her eyes were very blue. She was staring hard at Rose.
"Your face looks like my pa's tobacco pouch," the girl said in a mocking voice. "Serves you right, I guess. Those are my pa's persimmons."
Rose wanted to spit out the horrible-tasting fruit. But her mouth was too dry to spit. So she pulled it out with her finger. After a few moments her mouth began to feel right again.
Now Rose's face blazed hot. She was embarrassed and angry. But she tried to remember her manners.
"I'm sorry," she stammered. "I didn't know it was your tree."
"Where're you from?" the girl asked, but she didn't wait for Rose to answer. "You ain't from around here, or you'd of knowed better than to eat a green persimmon. Are you from that wagon in the hollow over yonder? My pa don't like drifters. He won't like it one bit if I tell him covered-wagon folks was stealing his persimmons."
Rose was shocked. She didn't like what the girl was saying. But she knew she shouldn't have been taking what belonged to someone else.
"We aren't drifters," Rose said finally. "We live here. That's our farm. Right back there."
"Well, then," the girl said, giving Rose a friendly smile. "That's a different story. Why didn't you say so? We're neighbors. My pa says you got to be neighborly to neighbors. Where'd you say your farm's at?"
"Up there," Rose said, pointing up the hill. "We just moved into our house."
"Well, this is my pa's place, on this side of Fry Creek." The girl swung her arms out proudly. "I've lived here my whole life, eight years. I'm the baby. How old are you?"
"I'll be eight in December," Rose answered. "But I'm the only one."
"I got six brothers and sisters," the girl continued. "My two big sisters don't like farm work much. They help my ma with the cookin' and house chores. But I like helpin' my pa in the barn and out in the fields. My pa says I'm the best son a man could ever hope for." The girl stopped talking and grinned. Then she asked, "What's your name?"
"Rose. Rose Wilder. I came with my mama and papa from South Dakota."
"South Dakota? What's it like there?" the girl asked.
"It's prairie," Rose explained. "It's all grass. And windy. And there aren't any trees."
"No trees!" the girl shouted. "Where do the birds put their nests? What about squirrels? You mean you got no squirrels there?"
"No," Rose replied.
"How 'bout coons and possums?"
"No," Rose said again. "But there are jackrabbits and gophers."
The girl shook her head and laughed. Then she told Rose about persimmons.
"These ain't ripe yet," she explained, showing Rose a persimmon like the one she had bitten into. It was firm, and the color was lighter than the others. "You cain't eat 'em till they get soft."
The girl reached into the tree and picked another persimmon.
"Here's a real good ripe one. See?" She held it out for Rose. "It's dark and kind of mushy. My ma cooks them in pudding. Smack down on it."
Rose took a small bite. This time her mouth filled with sweet juice. Rose had never tasted anything like it before. She ate all of the delicious fruit, spitting out the slimy brown seeds.
After a little while, the girl squinted up at the sky.
"Well, I got to go," she said. "Looks like rain, and I got to help Pa with the milking. I'll see you around."
"Good-bye," Rose said, waving. Then she remembered something. "Wait!" she called. "What's your name?"
"Alva. Alva Stubbins." The girl grinned and waved. "See you, Rose."
Rose gathered a few ripe persimmons in her skirt. Then she raced to get home before the rain started. She couldn't wait to show Mama the new fruit and tell her about her new friend.
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