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Prairie Lotus

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Prairie Lotus is a book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father's shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America's heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna's adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople's prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the Prairie Lotus is a book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father's shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America's heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna's adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople's prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.


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Prairie Lotus is a book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father's shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America's heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna's adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople's prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the Prairie Lotus is a book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father's shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America's heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna's adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople's prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.

30 review for Prairie Lotus

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Linda Sue Park has done those of us who grew up loving the Little House books a solid by writing this meticulously realized story of Hanna, a half Chinese girl who works as a dressmaker in her father's shop in Dakota Territory. Hanna's Chinese immigrant mother has died, and she and her white father are looking to start over by running a dry goods store in a small prairie town. Hanna is subjected to ridicule and racism, but finds solace and solidarity with other girls and women in town who eventu Linda Sue Park has done those of us who grew up loving the Little House books a solid by writing this meticulously realized story of Hanna, a half Chinese girl who works as a dressmaker in her father's shop in Dakota Territory. Hanna's Chinese immigrant mother has died, and she and her white father are looking to start over by running a dry goods store in a small prairie town. Hanna is subjected to ridicule and racism, but finds solace and solidarity with other girls and women in town who eventually stand up for her. LH fans will find homages to the Ingalls within the pages, and even a character modeled after the famous Nellie Olsen :) In her thoughtful author's note, Park explains that she wrote the book "as an attempt at a painful reconciliation." She loved the Little House books so much that "fifty years later I still know countless phrases and passages by heart." But like all LH fans, she recognizes and acknowledges the issues of racism and colonialism in the text and set out to write another version of a homesteading family. Prairie Lotus, along with Birchbark House, ensures that readers will not fall prey to the danger of a single story, as famously described by Chimamanda Adichie in her viral TED Talk. This is a valuable and necessary addition to the children's historical fiction canon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    This book is remarkable for its place in children's literature. I appreciate its existence so much! It's a lovely story about a pioneer girl in the vein of Little House on the Prairie, but the main character, Hanna, is half Chinese. Before moving to the Dakota Territory in 1880, Hanna and her parents lived through the 1871 mass lynching of Chinese people in Los Angeles. The event is used to set the tone for society's attitude towards Chinese people in the time period of this book. Personally, I This book is remarkable for its place in children's literature. I appreciate its existence so much! It's a lovely story about a pioneer girl in the vein of Little House on the Prairie, but the main character, Hanna, is half Chinese. Before moving to the Dakota Territory in 1880, Hanna and her parents lived through the 1871 mass lynching of Chinese people in Los Angeles. The event is used to set the tone for society's attitude towards Chinese people in the time period of this book. Personally, I did not know about this race riot until I was an adult - I certainly never heard about it in school - and I am beyond pleased that this book provides an opportunity for young readers to learn about this piece of American history. I am especially thrilled that this book features a half-Chinese main character, since books featuring mixed race characters are even rarer than books featuring people of color. There is much in this book that will resonate with Asian and half-Asian readers: Hanna's anxiety and discomfort from being different from everyone around her; the physical and mental exhaustion of worrying about how she ought to behave, and how others are perceiving her, on top of all the regular expectations of being in school; the indiginities suffered when others mistreat her, and the injustice of being blamed for others' cruelty; the self-doubt in wondering how someone's behavior towards her might be different if she weren't Chinese. These are all the emotions and experiences that are familiar to Asian Americans today. It's worth noting that the book does not use the word "chink" as a racial slur, but does use the phrase "chinks in the boards." (p. 68) I have to assume this was a conscious choice of words. Maybe the author is saying, "Nope, I am not going to use that awful word and, in fact, I'm going to use the non-offensive definition just to show how the word itself is twisted and gets its power only from the hate and racism of the people speaking the word." Other characters do use the term "Chinaman", which is appropriate for the time period. Since only the townspeople who don't like Hanna use the word in dialog, I think the text sufficiently conveys that the word is generally not acceptable and is derogatory. The author does an excellent job incorporating lessons of race that are applicable in real life. Although most often, when Hanna was mistreated, she was forced to suffer in silence, I liked that when given an opportunity, Hanna spoke up and modeled how a person could deal with a microaggression while remaining calm and non-confrontational. The book even states that Hanna had "spent a lot of time thinking what she should say" in case she was faced with a particular insult, which I appreciated because in my own experience, in the heat of an offense, I can rarely think of an effective response. The book also does a great job showing how Hanna herself, in a position of being at the mercy of others, was limited in what she could do; it was important that she have white allies who were willing to do the hard work of having the conversations that could truly change minds. The author even makes a point to show how standing up to others is a daunting and seemingly impossible task for a single person, but becomes doable with the support of just one other person. Again, in this example, the author is careful to show that the right approach did not come quickly and easily, but rather, took a lot of consideration and thought, planning and practice. I appreciate that Hanna's story includes interactions with Native Americans. I don't know how students learn about America's westward expansion now, but I clearly remember being in middle school and learning about Manifest Destiny as a fact of history. It actually feels like a relief to know that young readers today have access to narratives that re-frame the events of this period from a non-white perspective. Hanna ties her experience with Native Amerians to her overall understanding of American society, thinking, "I used to think only of how white people treated Chinese people. Now I know it's about how white people treat anybody who isn't white." (p. 157) Besides race, this book also addresses loss. Hanna needs to come to terms with the death of her mother, keeping her memories and love for her mother strong, even while her father moves them far away from any place that would remind them of her. I am impressed, too, in the way this book handles an assault. Physical violence (written in a very age appropriate way) might seem like one too many issues being tackled, but it's a realistic possibility. The event and the aftermath are not dwelled upon; readers get a glimpse of how a physical assault can affect a person's thinking and behavior. I think it's a worthwhile inclusion, it provides a point of reference for young readers to process abuse. A couple minor things did catch my attention. At one point, a character declares that "it was Koreans who had invented chopsticks". (p. 51) I am no scholar of Asian history, but I turned to Google, and every resource I could find on the history of chopsticks credits China with their invention. The assertion was made to show the character's pride in being Korean, but since it appears to be inaccurate, I'm concerned that young readers may accept it as fact, and I wonder why it was included, instead of some other undisputed Korean achievement. Also, a great deal is made in the book about how Mr. Harris had to write to the federal government to ask whether or not Hanna is legally allowed to attend the same school as everyone else. A lot of events hang on this question, yet we don't get an answer. (In San Francisco in the 1880s, Chinese children attended Chinese-only schools, and during segregation in the South, Chinese children were considered colored and barred from white schools.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Colby Sharp

    This book is so good! Check out my video review here: https://youtu.be/MNSVDDQsf-Y This book is so good! Check out my video review here: https://youtu.be/MNSVDDQsf-Y

  4. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    LOVVVVVVED THIS! The Little House books are such #problematicfaves of mine, I'm so thrilled to have the chance to keep scratching that bonnet itch in a way that expands the understanding of the pioneer mindset rather than limiting it. This is a great blend of a character to root for facing serious, realistic challenges without it being overwhelmingly bleak.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Brehl

    Don’t take my word for how wonderful this book is- latest count is five starred reviews! That won’t keep me from adding my voice to cheer for Hannah and for the amazing research/writing by Linda Sue Park. This is a perfectly balanced blend of classic settler story and nuanced counter narrative to the traditional single-story approach of Wilder and others. Hannah is a genuinely bright, competent, self-directed girl of her time, which means that she has had to learn the ways of reshaping her fathe Don’t take my word for how wonderful this book is- latest count is five starred reviews! That won’t keep me from adding my voice to cheer for Hannah and for the amazing research/writing by Linda Sue Park. This is a perfectly balanced blend of classic settler story and nuanced counter narrative to the traditional single-story approach of Wilder and others. Hannah is a genuinely bright, competent, self-directed girl of her time, which means that she has had to learn the ways of reshaping her father’s opinions without treading too heavily on the strictly defined limits on females- especially on a “mixed” child in a culture that never questions. White supremacy. I loved the way Hannah wins her father’s respect through business savvy and patience, while winning the respect of others in her new town, too. That doesn’t remove the hatred of others, nor the target on her back as a likely victim. The complex story is age appropriate, reads with page-turning tension, and made this reader cheer for her challenge after challenge and word after word.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Josephine

    Inspired by her love for The Little House on the Prairie books, Linda Sue Park has crafter a stunning novel. Main character, Hannah has a white father and a Chinese mother. She is considered a half-Chinese and half-white girl. After her mother’s death Hannah and her father move from California to a Little House–inspired fictional settler town. Hanna’s mother had been, an aspiring and talented dressmaker and before becoming sick, taught Hannah her skills. Now Hannah and her father seek a fresh sta Inspired by her love for The Little House on the Prairie books, Linda Sue Park has crafter a stunning novel. Main character, Hannah has a white father and a Chinese mother. She is considered a half-Chinese and half-white girl. After her mother’s death Hannah and her father move from California to a Little House–inspired fictional settler town. Hanna’s mother had been, an aspiring and talented dressmaker and before becoming sick, taught Hannah her skills. Now Hannah and her father seek a fresh start in Dakota Territory. It’s 1880, and they endure challenges similar to those faced by the Ingalls’ family and so many others: dreary travel through unfamiliar lands, the struggle to protect food stores from nature, and the risky uncertainty of establishing a livelihood in a new place. It is hard to experience the extreme xenophobia of the town’s white residents, which ranges in expression from microaggressions to full-out assault, and Hanna’s fight to overcome it with empathy and dignity. Hannah feels she must take her abuse if she and her father are to have a chance of survival on the frontier. Do not skip the author’s deeply and personal note about the story’s inspiration. While I thought the book excellent and meaningful I did not think the cover did justice to what you experience inside. The bonnet Hannah wears on the cover is significant, but Hannah appears a little cartoonish for such a serious and Important subject matter. Nevertheless, this is another Linda Sue Park home run book. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tara Ethridge

    If I could give this middle grade book 10 stars, I would. It is simply the most beautiful story of Hanna, a half white and half Chinese girl who moves to the Midwest with her dad to set up shop in a town. She is a skilled dressmaker who deals with such hardship and racism, and the storyline is gripping. Linda Sue Park’s afterword of her as a little girl wishing to see herself represented in Little House in the Prairie had me in a puddle of tears.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bridgette

    I'm not typically a fan of reading this period in American history, but I was drawn to his because it featured a main character I'd never seen in this sitting in literature before. This book was amazing. Hanna is a likeable, relatable character. Though the setting is historical, the issues are timeless. Hanna deals with racism, making new friends, striving for independence, first crushes, and mourning her mother. All she wants is to graduate school (a dream of her mother's) and make dresses, some I'm not typically a fan of reading this period in American history, but I was drawn to his because it featured a main character I'd never seen in this sitting in literature before. This book was amazing. Hanna is a likeable, relatable character. Though the setting is historical, the issues are timeless. Hanna deals with racism, making new friends, striving for independence, first crushes, and mourning her mother. All she wants is to graduate school (a dream of her mother's) and make dresses, something she loves to do and learned from her mother. My heart hurt so many times for her. There is so much in here that isn't typically addressed in other books set in the same time period, especially the Little House on the Prairie series, which was intentional as explained in the author's note. Hanna's dad even briefly contemplates what we now call white privilege. Hannah spend quite a bit of time thinking about how the Sioux women and children she met are treated and how this land used to be theirs and really still is. This is a book for everyone and deserves to become part of the literary canon.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Oh my gosh. Linda Sue Park has written the version of Little House on the Prairie for everyone else, the ones who aren't white, and cute, and fit into what most people think of living on the prairie in the late 1800s. Park even says that was her intent. Well researched, well written book about a girl who is half-Chinese who travels with her widowed father to an area very much like De Smit of the Laura Ingles Wilder fame. There she encounters all the prejudice that is all too prevalent at that tim Oh my gosh. Linda Sue Park has written the version of Little House on the Prairie for everyone else, the ones who aren't white, and cute, and fit into what most people think of living on the prairie in the late 1800s. Park even says that was her intent. Well researched, well written book about a girl who is half-Chinese who travels with her widowed father to an area very much like De Smit of the Laura Ingles Wilder fame. There she encounters all the prejudice that is all too prevalent at that time. Read this in one day, I could not put it down. Through it all Hanna keeps her composure, remembers what her mother always taught her, and moves on. Highly, highly recommend this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Hough

    Definitely NOT Little House on the Prairie, although set in the same time period. The premise was fascinating—a young half-Asian teen faces discrimination and abuse when she moves to small frontier town. Lacks the sweetness and idealism of the Little House books, but provides more nuance and realism. The historical details are interesting and readers can learn a lot from Hanna’s struggles and triumphs. An important story that stands alone or could be read along with the Little House books and Lo Definitely NOT Little House on the Prairie, although set in the same time period. The premise was fascinating—a young half-Asian teen faces discrimination and abuse when she moves to small frontier town. Lacks the sweetness and idealism of the Little House books, but provides more nuance and realism. The historical details are interesting and readers can learn a lot from Hanna’s struggles and triumphs. An important story that stands alone or could be read along with the Little House books and Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark series to provide multiple perspectives of a complicated time in our nation’s history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    Life on the prairie gets an update with a plucky heroine; daughter of a Korean/Chinese mother and a white father. Her mother died in the California race riots, so Hanna and her father relocate to a town that is modeled after DeSmet in the Little House books and decide to open a dry goods store to sell fabrics. Included in the story are Hanna's experiences in a one-room schoolhouse. Twice in the narrative Hanna interacts with native Americans that she encounters on the prairie in a respectful way Life on the prairie gets an update with a plucky heroine; daughter of a Korean/Chinese mother and a white father. Her mother died in the California race riots, so Hanna and her father relocate to a town that is modeled after DeSmet in the Little House books and decide to open a dry goods store to sell fabrics. Included in the story are Hanna's experiences in a one-room schoolhouse. Twice in the narrative Hanna interacts with native Americans that she encounters on the prairie in a respectful way. Park notes that she has those characters interact with Hanna using language and gestures to lend dignity to them. Hanna herself faces racial prejudice due to her "Chinaman" heritage and though it is tempting, she refuses to give up on her goal of finishing school and sewing dresses for their store. Throughout there are touching memories of her deceased mother as well as the struggles that Hanna and her dad have in relating to each other. Note: does include an incident in which Hanna is accosted by two drunk men in town and manages to escape, but bears physical scars from being grabbed and the knowledge that she could have been more seriously assaulted. Love, love, love the cover! Thank you to Houghton Mifflin and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lucia Galluzzo

    I don't usually like to read long books but this one really pulled me in.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This book is everything.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lee

    THIS is the kind of historical fiction we need. (Even has a bit of #metoo.) Such an important book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Little House re-imagined, with a half-Chinese protagonist and a frank acknowledgement of our history of white supremacy. I loooooved it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kip

    This book is fantastic. It will surely be appreciated by those who read the original Little House books as well as the next generation who deserve this compassionate and compelling update. The care she took with the historical details is amazing. Highly recommend!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shari

    PRAIRIE LOTUS is a book I will be recommending far and wide. Linda Sue Park admits freely that it is inspired by the Little House books, and fans of those books (who recognize their racist, one-story problems) will appreciate the care that Park has taken to tell this story. With a similar setting, Park sets out to retell the pioneer story, from the viewpoint of a half-Chinese, half-white 14 year old girl. I adore Hanna and her story, and I hope that Park will continue to write more stories about PRAIRIE LOTUS is a book I will be recommending far and wide. Linda Sue Park admits freely that it is inspired by the Little House books, and fans of those books (who recognize their racist, one-story problems) will appreciate the care that Park has taken to tell this story. With a similar setting, Park sets out to retell the pioneer story, from the viewpoint of a half-Chinese, half-white 14 year old girl. I adore Hanna and her story, and I hope that Park will continue to write more stories about Hanna and her experiences. Hanna is resourceful, smart, and resilient, and throughout the story learns to find the courage to push back against microagressions, stand her ground against blatant racism, and stand up for her own goals and dreams. Park did her research, and kept the details of the book realistic, telling a story that truly could have happened. Her author’s notes at the end are invaluable, as we see that this story was born from her childhood wondering if she and Laura Ingalls could have been friends. Despite all the parallels, this is not just a retelling - this is Park’s story, and she tells it beautifully. Her descriptions of the dress shop, sewing, the school, and all the chores that fell on Hanna’s shoulders, are fascinating. Hanna’s memories of her mother are touching and give the reader so much insight into Hanna’s personality. Readers looking for MG historical fiction, particularly about American pioneers, will enjoy this honest, realistic, hopeful story of a determined, intelligent, courageous girl, coming of age and finding her place in this often-harsh world. Thanks to #NetGalley for providing an e-ARC of this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    What a powerful story with a strong heroine on America's frontier. This book is a fabulous historical novel to hand to readers of the Little House books who like stories of strong girls in the American West. It doesn't shy away from the racism that a non-white person would have experienced, while still making this an empowering and engaging story that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yapha

    I loved this!! Such important representation! (I know I wrote a longer review before, but it seems to have disappeared off GoodReads.) ARC provided by publisher

  20. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I would imagine that this well-written book will be on just about everyone's must-read list for this year, and it certainly deserves to be on that list and receive that attention. Like so many of us, Linda Sue Park grew up reading the Little House books but was troubled by some of their aspects. Still, she could not deny their appeal, and this book allows her to follow Hannah Edmunds and her father as they settle down in LaForge in the Dakota Territory in 1880. Having left California after the d I would imagine that this well-written book will be on just about everyone's must-read list for this year, and it certainly deserves to be on that list and receive that attention. Like so many of us, Linda Sue Park grew up reading the Little House books but was troubled by some of their aspects. Still, she could not deny their appeal, and this book allows her to follow Hannah Edmunds and her father as they settle down in LaForge in the Dakota Territory in 1880. Having left California after the death of her mother, Hannah has had to forgo formal education and do without friends. She hopes to find both in LaForge. But she also knows from experience that others will judge her because of her skin and ancestry since Hannah's mother was Chinese. Park describes Hannah's aching need for self-expression through her sketching and dress designing, and the memories and advice from her mother that she continues to treasure. Her father is portrayed as gruff and not always the most sympathetic of characters while Hannah herself faces racism at every turn, even in her new classroom. The cavalier and dismissive treatment of those whose skin was not white is described in several instances as are some of the racist comments about slanted eyes. The family's acceptance by others is slow and halting at points, and even her father fails to understand that the federal government's treatment of the Sioux whose lands are being taken by white settlers is problematic. While I don't know how "woke" it would have been possible for someone like Hannah to be during that era, I fell in love with her and enjoyed this story just as much as I did the series that inspired it. Readers might want to read the Author's Note and Acknowledgements even before delving into the book itself.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Allison Parker

    When Hanna arrives with her father to the developing town LaForge in the Dakota Territory, she knows what to do. Use the back streets. Look down. Wear a bonnet that covers her face, even in school, at least for a while. Papa doesn't want any trouble. And trouble usually follows when people see that Hanna is half-Chinese. Sure enough, when Hanna's identity becomes known, their neighbors start holding their children back from school, outraged that a Chinese person be educated alongside their kin. When Hanna arrives with her father to the developing town LaForge in the Dakota Territory, she knows what to do. Use the back streets. Look down. Wear a bonnet that covers her face, even in school, at least for a while. Papa doesn't want any trouble. And trouble usually follows when people see that Hanna is half-Chinese. Sure enough, when Hanna's identity becomes known, their neighbors start holding their children back from school, outraged that a Chinese person be educated alongside their kin. The few people who don't outright ignore Hanna have ignorant or even cruel things to say. And her father's new dressmaker shop risks losing all its customers before it even opens. Hanna knows her Papa doesn't want to make a ruckus. But she seethes with the unfairness of her life. When she was alive, her mother made her proud of her dual heritage. Now, she is expected to feel shame about who she is? Who her mother was? All Hanna wants is to make a life in this town, same as anyone else - education, a career, and friendships. But she will have to work harder than anyone else to succeed. Wow, such a wonderful book. Definitely take time to read the author's note - Linda Sue Park explains this novel as a sort of response to her very mixed feelings about Laura Ingalls Wilder's LITTLE HOUSE series. Hanna's experience encountering a group of Sioux women and witnessing others' reactions to them adds further nuance to her understandings of injustice and privilege. Highly recommend this moving historical novel to young readers!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A bit like a middle grade version of Stacey Lee's The Downstairs Girl, Park's novel was written in part as a way for her to reconcile her love of the Little House books with their racist overtones - and as a way for Asian-American children to see themselves in history. As another minority who is frequently left out of historical narratives (because Jews weren't invented until 1938, right?), I can attest to the importance of this, and Park tells Hanna's story fluidly. More importantly, one of Han A bit like a middle grade version of Stacey Lee's The Downstairs Girl, Park's novel was written in part as a way for her to reconcile her love of the Little House books with their racist overtones - and as a way for Asian-American children to see themselves in history. As another minority who is frequently left out of historical narratives (because Jews weren't invented until 1938, right?), I can attest to the importance of this, and Park tells Hanna's story fluidly. More importantly, one of Hanna's realizations is that she doesn't just have to take the microaggressions and worse; it's not on her to internalize them, it's on others to stop making them. That's a lesson I could have stood to learn earlier, and I'm glad that this novel is around to help children today. And when I turn off my teacher/critic, it's just a good story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pat Cummings

    Knowing how Linda Sue Park can create compelling characters that pull you steadily and thoroughly into their lives, I expected a well-crafted, engaging story. But I hadn't expected to find myself unable to stop reading. Hannah is a beautifully drawn character whose complex range of emotions in reaction to the hostile, xenophobic world she inhabits feels absolutely authentic for the time and setting: 1880s on the American prairie. She's a memorable character: touchingly vulnerable yet believably Knowing how Linda Sue Park can create compelling characters that pull you steadily and thoroughly into their lives, I expected a well-crafted, engaging story. But I hadn't expected to find myself unable to stop reading. Hannah is a beautifully drawn character whose complex range of emotions in reaction to the hostile, xenophobic world she inhabits feels absolutely authentic for the time and setting: 1880s on the American prairie. She's a memorable character: touchingly vulnerable yet believably strong, determined and self-aware. Descriptions of the complicated, arduous tasks that were necessary just to sustain daily life are folded in so naturally that readers may not realize what a history lesson they're getting. Hannah's world is so vivid, and Linda Sue's lesson about how we treat each other is so timeless, that Prairie Lotus will leave its mark on readers...possibly even change them. Excellent, timeless and timely story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Misti

    When 14-year-old Hanna and her father move to a new town on the South Dakota prairie, she hopes that it will be a permanent home for them -- a place where her father can start the dress goods store that he's always wanted, where she can go to school and get her diploma, and then maybe start designing and sewing dresses to sell to the ladies of the town. But Hanna's mother was Chinese, and racism rears its ugly head when Hanna starts attending the local school. Will she be able to achieve her dre When 14-year-old Hanna and her father move to a new town on the South Dakota prairie, she hopes that it will be a permanent home for them -- a place where her father can start the dress goods store that he's always wanted, where she can go to school and get her diploma, and then maybe start designing and sewing dresses to sell to the ladies of the town. But Hanna's mother was Chinese, and racism rears its ugly head when Hanna starts attending the local school. Will she be able to achieve her dreams? I really enjoyed this story, the author's answer to some problematic elements of the Little House series. With strong characters and good pacing, this is a book guaranteed to appeal to lovers of frontier stories. If you liked Little Town on the Prairie and Hattie Big Sky, you should seek out this one.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This is a critical success and a must read! Hanna and her father arrive in LaForge in the Dakotas in the 1800s and set about making a life for themselves- Hanna to school, Papa building and setting up their Dress Goods store. Because Hanna is half Chinese, she encounters a lot of ignorance and racism. Always level headed and channeling the positivity of her mama, who passed 3 years ago, Hanna keeps her head held high and her moral compass straight. She’s aware of the injustices that she encounte This is a critical success and a must read! Hanna and her father arrive in LaForge in the Dakotas in the 1800s and set about making a life for themselves- Hanna to school, Papa building and setting up their Dress Goods store. Because Hanna is half Chinese, she encounters a lot of ignorance and racism. Always level headed and channeling the positivity of her mama, who passed 3 years ago, Hanna keeps her head held high and her moral compass straight. She’s aware of the injustices that she encounters and can articulate them impressively. This book is an antidote to the limited and racist foundations of the Little House books. Park writes an impassioned explanation in her afterword.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I loved this book for so many reasons but mostly for Linda Sue Park’s courage to reconcile her own childhood pain and confusion. Like many of us, as a.child, she loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. But, even as a child, they also left her feeling uncomfortable, particularly Ma’s racism toward Native Americans, but other aspects of the novels, too. With clarity and painful personal insight, Park recreates Laura’s Western frontier from a totally different outsider’s point of view, whi I loved this book for so many reasons but mostly for Linda Sue Park’s courage to reconcile her own childhood pain and confusion. Like many of us, as a.child, she loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. But, even as a child, they also left her feeling uncomfortable, particularly Ma’s racism toward Native Americans, but other aspects of the novels, too. With clarity and painful personal insight, Park recreates Laura’s Western frontier from a totally different outsider’s point of view, while at the same time addressing head-on, insensitivities, micro aggressions snd blatant bigotry still suffered by people of color everyday. She addresses all of this much more elegantly than I do in the novel and her notes at the end. Profound, thoughtful historical fiction. Both a window and a mirror.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Excellent book about the experiences of Hanna, a 1/2 Chinese, 1/2 White girl in a small town in Dakota Territory in the 1880's. Linda Sue Park loved the Little House books while growing up, but was always hurt by the way Ma talked about the Native Americans and how Pa felt that it was ok to do blackface. This book tells about the racism of the time. It also talks about the basic hardships of life at that time. It would be a great book to read with students while learning about pioneers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: “Should be our last day,” Papa said when they stopped to make camp. Premise/plot: Hanna and her father are newly moved to Dakota territory; the year is 1880. Her dad will be opening up a dress goods shop once the building is completed. Hanna, meanwhile, hopes to graduate with her diploma and fulfill her mom’s dream. But it won’t be easy because Hanna is half-Chinese. There is some question whether she’ll be allowed to attend school. She doesn’t need the diploma, but she wants it. First sentence: “Should be our last day,” Papa said when they stopped to make camp. Premise/plot: Hanna and her father are newly moved to Dakota territory; the year is 1880. Her dad will be opening up a dress goods shop once the building is completed. Hanna, meanwhile, hopes to graduate with her diploma and fulfill her mom’s dream. But it won’t be easy because Hanna is half-Chinese. There is some question whether she’ll be allowed to attend school. She doesn’t need the diploma, but she wants it. Her dream is to be a dress maker, a seamstress. My thoughts: I loved this one so much. As I was reading this one I kept asking myself, are these characters inspired by Little House?! In particular the social scenes with the other kids. I was so pleased to read the author’s note and learn that yes she was inspired to write her own twist to Wilder’s books. Growing up, Park wanted to be Laura’s best friend. As she continued to grow and mature she realized that Laura probably would not have been allowed to be her friend. That Ma would have probably looked down upon her, that her prairie experience would have been completely different—even more challenging. What would it be like to be an Asian pioneer?! Plenty has been written about Chinese settlers in California, but this may be the first—probably is the first for young children—about settling further East. I found the book to be well written, and the characters well drawn. I loved that Hanna was able to make friends with Bess!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    4.5 Beautifully written historical fiction by the wonderful Linda Sue Park. This book has been carefully researched, and provides a glimpse into what life on the American west may have been like for a person of Chinese descent. I wished this book would have been longer and more detailed, but I honestly feel that the length will be perfect for reluctant readers of historical fiction. The story’s pace is quick and covers a lot of action within its pages.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    *ARC Not her best work. The story seemed forced and lacked flow. With that said, there are not a whole lot of books about Chinese American teens coming of age on the Dakota Territory during the 1880's. So, if you are trying to find a middle school fiction about Chinese American prejudice in the 1880's on the prairie, then this is your book.

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