Cover Image: Prairie Lotus

Prairie Lotus

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Member Reviews

UPDATE: May 18/20

Although I initially really enjoyed this story, I've heard criticism of its representation of Indigenous people from sources that I trust. I am not qualified to comment on it, therefore I will refrain from reviewing it and encourage you to research it. A great place to start is Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

I was intrigued by the description of this book when I first saw it, but reading that the author wrote it to acknowledge her childhood love for the Laura Ingalls Wilder books pulled me in even more. She wanted to tell a story set at that time that wasn't racist, and that also showed what life may have been like for an Asian-American character. 

The first aspect I loved is that Hanna has encounters with Native Americans that were respectful, and mutually beneficial. Without being able to communicate with words, they share their food, and show a true desire to help each other. 

Hanna desperately wants to go to school and graduate before she attempts to follow her dream to make dresses for their new dress shop. Though many of the townspeople are against Hanna attending and refuse to send their children to school while she's there, her teacher is a huge supporter and helps Hanna find a way to reach this goal.

I enjoyed watching the politics of a small town, and how the influence of understanding women became such an important part of Hanna and her father's success at their store's opening.

There's a lot to love about this story, and I would offer it to anyone asking for the Little House books, and historical fiction lovers.
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My Thoughts
I loved, loved, loved Prairie Lotus. Narrated by Hanna, a strong, intelligent, and determined 14 year old Chinese-American girl who moves east with her father to Dakota territory from California in the 1880s, this novel is one that captured my attention(and my heart) from the very first.

Hanna’s character is totally likable, believable and relate-able, and one I would want on my side, and one I would root for too! She is full of spunk and determined to rise above all the challenges she faces to achieve her goals.
Hanna deals with racism, and I loved that she faces it with dignity. At the same time, she notices the similarities between how she and the Native Americans she encounters are treated, and always treats them with respect herself.

She also deals with missing her mother. I truly was touched by the many memories she has of her mother, and smiled at all the time she recalls her mom’s many sayings. Her interactions with her schoolmates and townspeople is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at different times.

Linda Sue Park’s descriptions help the reader visualize life exactly as it was in that time and place. And while the story is historical, sadly, the issues are not. In the light of what is happening, reading books like this will help bring issues like racism to the forefront, and help us towards becoming a more inclusive and welcoming society.

I now want to read more by Linda Sue Park. And this book reminded me of so many other books I loved, including The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Notes of an Undocumented “Citizen,” and a couple others.

And a few of her “mama’s says:”
- Good work is no good if you don’t finish.
- To save time, take time.
- For the person who is sour, do something sweet.

In Summary
Of course, a much needed book which is a must-read. A book that belongs in our hearts and minds.

Check my blog - LadyInReadWrites - for more reviews

Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the digital ARC of the book; these are my honest opinions after reading the book.
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This book is very charming, and offers a different perspective on a history which is usually exclusively told through a white perspective. I appreciated reading the author's note that she loved Laura Ingalls Wilder--I did as well, and it contextualized a generalized feeling I had about this book. I highly recommend it!
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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!
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Prairie Lotus is a book that belongs in every classroom in America. This book opened my eyes to a story we don't often hear about when learning about this period of American history. The story is about a Chinese-American girl named Hanna who moves with her father to the Dakota Territory in the 1880's. Hanna's voice helps readers to view the challenges she faced, including racism from her peers and town members. In the midst of everything that is happening currently in our world, it is important for us to share these kinds of books with our readers so that they may be more open to fighting the racism that is still prevalent in our society today.
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Wow, I really, really enjoyed this book. Hanna's voice felt so authentic, and I think it was a very engaging look at life during this time. I think it will be a powerful book to share with young readers because so many American children, when asked about racism, will immediately jump to well known civil rights leaders like Dr. Marin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Many readers know that racism is not singular to one race, but reading books like this one really helps them to understand and take to heart what exactly racism means and who it can affect. I will definitely be ordering for my library.
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I didn't want this book to end! It was such a beautiful story and the main character was hurt by the townsfolk's racism but didn't let it define her life. Loved the relationship between her and her dad, who was not the prototypically perfect single dad but who still listened to his daughter and respected her thoughts. It was a supremely satisfying read and I would recommend it to anyone.
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Two words, Instant Classic.  I know those words carry weight but what else do you call a book you can't stop talking about. No matter how you feel about Little House on the Prairie you have to fall in love with Hanna and her grit. As a half Chinese girl new to Dakota in the 1800s being raised by her white father, Hanna faces nothing but adversity. As an unlikely advocate for this genre I know many teachers out there that would gladly welcome this addition to not only their curriculum but also their classroom libraries. The power of books lies in the hands of teachers and this book is the best candidate for that spot. Instead of painting the faces of characters on the cover of classics we need this. This, the untold story of a person of color inside or even running parallel to the stories so many of us grew up on. I want this book to succeed based not only on representation but also because of its pure originality.
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Love this book! It has sad themes (racism and discrimination) but is a truly important and accurate depiction of history. Wish I had this to read as a kid! We need more books like this in our school libraries and classrooms. Thank you, Linda Sue Park, for writing this educational and valuable book that is so needed, especially during these turbulent times. An essential read for all students.
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I was unsure if I would like this book because historical fiction isn't really the type of book I enjoy. However, this was so well-written and engrossing that I could not put it down. The main character is 14, so this is perfect for upper middle grade readers. This is about a father and daughter, who is half Chinese, moving to the Dakota territory in the later 1800s. We see them settle in, try to become part of the community, and see the struggles they face. It deals with racism in school and the community. I would recommend this to those looking for a gentle but powerful read.
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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 give dignity and humanity they deserve. 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.
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Reminiscent of the Little House books with a Chinese-American protagonist who helps contemporary readers better understand the racism that existed in that time and place.  A great read!
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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.
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This wonderful story is about Hanna, who is moving with her dad to an expansion town in South Dakota in the late 1800s.  They are leaving their home in California because of the death of her mother, who was injured in race riots and later died.  They are hoping for a fresh start in South Dakota.  Unfortunately, a lot of the racism continues because Hanna looks a lot like her mother, who was half Chinese and half Korean.  Hanna wants what everyone else wants-friends, family, and a chance to do what she does best, which in this case, is make dresses.  This is a terrific story and I loved reading the author's notes about her inspiration, both literary and personal.  I can't wait to get this one into my library.
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Prairie Lotus is a powerful, heartfelt, and important book that handles racism and prejudice with grace and sensitivity. Hanna is a smart, kind, and brave protagonist. As a biracial Chinese American girl in the 1880s, she deals with so many microaggressions and outright violence from peers and adults but does her best to keep living her life and standing up for what she believes is right even when she feels afraid of the backlash. I appreciated that the mistreatment of Native Americans was not glossed over or rationalized and that Hanna explicitly calls out those who are prejudiced, including her own white father, and recognizes and decries the injustice Native Americans face. Her passion for dressmaking and her friendship with Bess shine bright in this book, and I also loved all of the tributes to her mother and her Chinese heritage, such as the lotus she puts on all of her pieces. This book should become a new classic to replace outdated, racist Little House on the Prairie.
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Told from Hanna’s perspective, Prairie Lotus immediately sucks you in. There are many parallels between it and Wilder’s work, but instead of the white perspective, you get that of a girl who sees much of herself mirrored in the eyes of the Native Americans she encounters.

Hanna is a character you immediately want to root for — strong, intelligent and determined. Though 14, Hanna is wise beyond her years. Her experience is emotional and empowering.

Park is an excellent storyteller. Her descriptions of LaForge, schooling and dressmaking in particular are vivid and engrossing. Reading her book is almost like walking into real-life scenes. Her writing is clear and honest. Prairie Lotus is a must-read.

Link goes live 2/17/2020
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This is a powerful story about racism and bias that children need to hear or read.  Hanna is such a strong and determined character.  She is a 14-year old girl who is half-white and half-Chinese.  Readers will be drawn to her story about achieving her dreams and overcoming obstacles in the 1800s.   Linda Sue Park emotionally connects us to Hanna as she encounters setbacks and triumphs.  The author's note is not to be missed!

Thank you to Linda Sue Park, the publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What an INCREDIBLE book. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think that this is the kind of book that Little House on the Prairie could have been. In it, the protagonist, a 14-year-old half white-half Chinese girl named Hanna experiences microaggressions, overt racism, and violence while living on the prairie in the late 1800s.

As she experiences all of this, she gives us a glimpse into the toll those actions take—the exhaustion, the anger, and the fear she feels having to navigate a racist community. 

Through it all, she is her own savior, showing her resilience, her ingenuity, and her strength. 

Read this book, and when you’re finished, do yourself a huge favor, and read the afterword. It’s SO good.
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Thank you, Linda Sue Park, for this book!  My only complaint is that the book had to end. This book is a beautiful look at what it means to be racially different in the late 1800’s in a blooming homesteading town. Reminiscent of Ingles’ Little House on the Prairie (the author herself says this book was inspired by the Little House books), this book differed in that we got a really deep dive into the main character, Hanna, who is Chinese-American. 

My favorite part of the Little House series is reading about how families lived during that time. I loved this book because while Park beautifully described life in LaForge she also beautifully describes what it was like to be half Chinese living in LaForge. 

Bravo to Linda Sue Park for this amazing book that every child should read. And brave to Hanna for standing up to grown-ups and children alike for what is fair and right. 

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Clarion Books, and Linda Sue Parker for sharing an advance copy of Prairie Lotus which will be published on March 3, 2020. All opinions are my own.

Hanna is a young half-Asian girl living with her father in the small, newly formed town of LaForge, South Dakota during the 1880s. Her mother, who died three years ago, was Chinese and a seamstress. She passed down her love and talent for sewing to Hanna. Hanna's father started moving them east away from Los Angeles following her mother's death. They finally settle in LaForge where they plan to open a dress goods store. Hanna dreams of going to school and getting her diploma, something her mother wanted, and to be a dressmaker in her father's shop. Because she is half-Chinese, she must deal with many prejudices and obstacles.

There are so many things to love about this book. Hanna is a strong, vibrant, and determined female protagonist. Though she is young, she seems to be wise beyond her years and her perspective causes the reader to reevaluate what they know about history, society, and their own views and prejudices. Throughout the book, Hanna makes many important points about the way she and the native Americans are treated. She faces outright racism as well as micro agressions. This book fills a hole in middle grade historical fiction and our history curriculum in general. We teach that immigration occurred and that the Chinese built the railroads, but what is generally overlooked in curriculum is the treatment of the Chinese and their descendants. Though this book is historical fiction, it is still poignant and makes the reader look at how they treat others. I believe that middle grade readers will find Hanna's story inspiring, humorous, harrowing, and captivating. It's also a fairly short book that reads rather quickly.
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