"Dance at Grandpa's" is a condensed version of "Little House in the Big Woods", a book by Laura Ingles Wilder. In the 1930s, Wilder created a series of "Little House on the Prairie" books that surrounded the Wilders, a family living in the frontier. "Dance at Grandpa's" serves as an introduction to the books, but is designed for younger readers.
"Dance at Grandpa's" follows the Wilder family and their adventures during the frontier and pioneer days. Laura is the main character, but her older sister, Mary, and baby sister, Carrie, also appear. Ma and Pa Wilder are frequently mentioned, as are Grandma and Grandpa. Uncle George, who is mentioned in the later books and fought in the Civil War, also makes an appearance in this book.
The dance mentioned in the book's title occurs at the home of Laura, Mary and Carrie's grandparents. The entire community bands together to make maple syrup and celebrates with a dance. The grandmother spends most of the party in the kitchen, but does come out multiple times to take part in the dancing. The book is designed as a companion piece to "Little House in the Big Woods," which was the first book in the Little House on the Prairie series of books. Essentially this is a picture book with minimal writing that condenses down the story in "Little House in the Big Woods."
The modern books produced by Harper Collins are designed for younger children who cannot yet read a full "Little House on the Prairie" books. The book features numerous drawings in lieu of actual descriptions. Even smaller elements described in the "Little House in the Big Woods" book, including the clothing worn by specific characters, are used in the drawings to add more information to the story. The images give readers an idea of what the characters look like.
"Dance at Grandpa's" introduces themes of family togetherness and community. The family focus is evident, as the family works together, relaxes together and generally spends most of their time together. Older readers may notice that the book takes place in a forgotten era, when it was not as easy to accomplish simple tasks. The book introduces younger readers to the idea of frontier life, but it is a very pared down view of that life. The full-size books go into greater detail and offer more descriptions of frontier life.