In 1846 six year Caroline Quiner, who grew up to be Laura Ingalls' Wilder's mother, is living in the growing town of Brookfield, Wisconsin. Still in mourning over the death of her beloved father, who was lost at sea, Caroline finds comfort in the hustle and bustle of her large family. There's Mother, Caroline, Grandma, Martha, Eliza, Henry, Joseph and baby Thomas. It is the fourth of July and the Quiner family is heading into town for a festive Independence day celebration. Caroline loves the celebratory mood of the Fourth of July. She takes in all the sights and sounds, singing along with Yankee Doodle at the top of her lungs. As the day winds down Caroline wishes that the town could celebrate America's independence each and every day. As the Quiner children begin the new school year Caroline is faced with the all important spelling bee. Although Caroline knows her words she is nervous that she'll cave in under all the pressure of having to compete against another student in front of the entire class. On the day of the spelling bee Caroline is pitted against another first year student, Elsa Schmidt. In Caroline's opinion Elsa is a very unfriendly child, one who shuns the other students and refuses all attempts at conversation. As Caroline and Elsa go back and forth spelling words Caroline realizes that Elsa is quite good at spelling. Suddenly, Elsa is asked to spell Frog and she mispronounces the G due to her German accent. When Miss Morgan tells Elsa that she is incorrect Elsa starts screaming NEIN in German and runs out of the classroom. Caroline feels badly about Elsa and the spelling bee; After talking to her mother about the incident Caroline is determined to help Elsa learn English better. When Caroline runs into Elsa on the way to school Caroline works with Elsa on her spelling and begins to sow the seed of a friendship. One afternoon Caroline and her older brother Henry go berry picking in the woods. Caroline is terrified when a wolf appears in the bushes. Caroline is amazed when the wolf approaches her and licks her hand. Henry laughs up a storm and informs Caroline that the "wolf" is actually a dog. Henry and Caroline decide to bring the dog home and hide him in their barn until they can convince Mother to let them keep Wolf. Although Henry and Caroline try to convince mother to keep Wolf, mother tells the children that they don't have enough food to go around as it is. When the family discovers that woodchucks are destroying the garden mother is impressed when Wolf steps in and kills one of the woodchucks. The children are ecstatic when Mother tells them they can keep Wolf. Caroline gets the shock of her life when the family heads to town and is confronted by an angry Indian. Luckily, their neighbour, Mr. Carpenter, steps in and sends the Indian on his way. Caroline has nightmares about the angry Indian and fears that she may see him again one day. One afternoon as the Quiner family is making preserves in the kitchen, the angry Indian bursts into their home. The Indian walks around their home and takes a few peacock feathers and places them in his braid. As the family recovers from their shock after the Indian leaves they suddenly realize that Eliza and baby Thomas are missing.
This report prepared by Sandra Calhoune