In Little House in the Big Words, Laura helps Ma with Sukey the cow in the yard while Pa was away. But when Ma goes to push the cow she realizes that it’s actually not Sukey their cow but a big black bear. This is one of the most interesting stories in Little House in the big woods because it puts Laura in danger, as well as her mother. But did this event really happen?
In the original Pioneer Girl manuscript, Laura actually wasn’t part of this story but a mere bystander. She was waiting safely in the house when Ma came rushing in and told them about the bear she thought was Sukey. Pa later came home bringing Sukey with him. But by then the bear was gone.
In Little House in the Big Woods, the story got changed to include Laura in the yard with Ma, helping with chores, when they discovered the bear. And the updated version excluded the details that might have made Ma realize something was wrong, such as Sukey was standing still so that they could not hear her cowbell ringing, and she wasn’t mooing to alert the family.
As Pa tended to be the storyteller of the family, not Ma, this made the story feel more alive to readers when Laura was actually more involved in the story itself about the bear.