As a child, By The Shores of Silver Lake wasn't my favorite of the series. I blame Jack's death for that. But as an adult, I've come to appreciate By The Shores of Silver Lake more, seeing it as more than just a transition between On the Banks of Plum Creek and The Long Winter.
In By the Shores of Silver Lake:
- Mary goes blind, Laura is "asked" to be her eyes
- Pa is offered a new job, a job with the railroad, which he takes
- He goes by wagon, Jack dies BEFORE Pa's departure
- The rest of the family travels most of the way by train
- They continue the rest of their journey (a day or two or three) by wagon
- They settle in for a while, Pa talks about the claim he hopes to claim later that year or whenever his job is finished and he's able to go out seeking a claim of his own
- Pa's job isn't always safe; he's the paymaster for the railroad, and he has to calm down an angry mob in this one.
- They meet the Boast family
- They spend the winter in the 'biggest' house Laura has ever lived in
- Winter may be lonely (no neighbors, no town) but the spring will see plenty of people come and go. EVERYONE stops at their house on their way west
- The family learns that there is a school for the blind, they all decide Mary should go there.
- The family decides to claim land near De Smet, South Dakota
- Laura catches the tiniest glimpse of Almanzo Wilder's horses