Paula Becker grew up reading the "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" children's books, and loved the whimsical stories of her uncanny ability to cure children of bad character traits. The author of the books, Betty MacDonald, lived in Washington. Many years later, when Becker moved to the Evergreen state, she asked her local librarian what had become of the best-selling author.
It was then that she found out MacDonald had written much more than the fanciful "Piggle Wiggle" books. She was also the author of best-selling memoirs about her personal life.
As a historian for Historylink, Becker became enthralled with researching MacDonald and the places she lived. That eventually led her inside one of MacDonald’s old houses, literally minutes before it was torn down. Becker describes her feeling of being transported on a "magic carpet ride" through MacDonald’s life.
Becker was given given exclusive access by MacDonald's family to never-before-seen archives and letters. They told a much bleaker story of MacDonald’s true life than the one presented in her books.
“I was very moved at the thought of how hard she worked and what a momentous task she accomplished as a young unmarried mother during the 1930s in particular. You know, how hard she worked, and yet she kept a sense of humor,” Becker said.
Becker wrote a book about MacDonald, and her own obsession with the author, called “Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, The Plague, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and I.”