After the death of her mother, Hanna and her father strike out to the Dakota territory to open a dry goods store. But there are a few problems. For one thing, LaForge already has dry goods and suiting retailers; what they need is a dress shop. Hanna has mad sewing skills and a taste for fashion, but will her father let her get involved when her schooling comes first? But it gets worse, for Hanna is half Asian, and there’s pushback from the community as to exactly how welcoming they’re going to be. School might not be roadblock, after all. And things get more complicated when Hanna befriends a group of Native women and children gathering plants off the reservation. And on top of that, will any of the kids wind up befriending Hanna? Lots of authentic historical details kept me engaged in this attempting-to-fix-the-problems homage to the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Great for adults and kids ten and up.— Daniel Goldin
With Prairie Lotus, Newbery Medal winner Linda Sue Park has written a gem of American historical fiction for middle grade readers. In her author's note, Park says it's a story she's been writing nearly all her life. "It is an attempt to reconcile my childhood love of the Little House books with my adult knowledge of their painful shortcomings." To reconcile the attitudes of Laura Ingalls Wilder's characters toward people of color while honoring the books, Park gives us 14-year-old Hanna, the half Asian daughter of a white father and a mother who was both Chinese and Korean. After her mother's tragic illness and death, Hanna and her father leave California in 1880 for the Dakota Territory, where four Little House books were also set. Hanna will need all the loving wisdom Mama gave her in order to be strong in the face of challenges and injustices from people who have never lived around a Chinese person and react very badly. The things Hanna and Mama wanted for her - going to school, designing beautiful dresses, even walking safely in town - can seem impossible, but it's the details of meeting these problems on a frontier that make the book so textured and meaningful. Hanna is a strong, determined girl who will search for ways to treat everyone justly, and to find just treatment for herself. This is richly developed Americana, and I am deeply grateful!— Tim McCarthy
Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered 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. Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers. Afterword.
About the Author
Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning A Single Shard, the best-seller A Long Walk to Water, and the highly-praised novel Prairie Lotus. She has also written several acclaimed picture books and serves on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She lives in western New York with her family. www.lindasuepark.com, Twitter: @LindaSuePark
"Captivating." - The New York Times ★ "Fans of the Little House books will find many of the small satisfactions of Laura's stories...here in abundance. Park brings new depth to these well-trodden tales, though, as she renders visible both the 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.... Remarkable."—Kirkus, STARRED review ★ "Strongly reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novels in its evocative, detailed depictions of daily frontier life....[Hanna's] painful experiences, including microaggressions, exclusion, and assault, feel true to the time and place, and Park respectfully renders Hanna’s interactions with Ihanktonwan women. An absorbing, accessible introduction to a troubled chapter of American history."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review ★ "In her latest middle-grade historical-fiction masterpiece, Park conjures the resourceful and industrious spirit of America’s westward expansion without ignoring the ugly veneer of racism....An incredible and much-needed addition to the historical-fiction canon."—Booklist, STARRED review ★ "Park’s novel is clearly in conversation with [Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books], from Hanna’s friendlier interactions with, and more thoughtful views about, members of the Ihanktonwan tribe to racist attitudes among LaForge’s townspeople, who object to Hanna’s presence in the school and blame her after a local man assaults her. But this novel stands on its own, with a vividly drawn protagonist in self-reliant Hanna." —The Horn Book Magazine, STARRED review ★ "A sometimes uncomfortable yet triumphant story from the world of 'Little House on the Prairie' told through a marginalized perspective; this is a must-read for middle grades and beyond." —School Library Journal, STARRED review ★ "Narrated by a smart, clear-sighted and tremendously likable protagonist, Prairie Lotus is a richly layered work of historical fiction set in a landscape that will be familiar to Little House on the Prairie readers….As one can expect from Park, Prairie Lotus's gorgeous, fluid storytelling carries the reader along swiftly to a satisfying conclusion.” —Shelf Awareness, STARRED review "In this accessible exploration of a biracial teen’s prairie year, Park invites fellow Wilder fans to consider the struggle for respect and independence roiling beneath the iconic sunbonnet." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books