Prairie Lotus

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

This book was great! Being an immigrant, I love reading about people trying to find their place on this country. Hanna, the protagonist, is having an especially hard time because she is half-Chinese and without a mother. Her father is trying his best but he can hardly relate to his daughter’s struggles.
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I enjoyed reading this book.  It was an excellent book. I loved the way that she was determined.  As hard as it was for her parents to marry, I was confused as to how oblivious he was to her problems and concerns.   I wish the author had explained his attitude better. Still,  I did enjoy the book and would recommend it!
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Linda Sue Park is one of my favorite authors who writes historical fiction for young teens. I loved her Newbery Award winning book, A Single Shard. 

Park is a Korean American and most of her stories include Korean characters. She shares that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books inspired this story.  

The main character in Prairie Lotus is a girl, Hanna, who is mixed race - part Chinese and part Caucasian. The story revolves around the adjustments she is experiencing after her Chinese mother dies. Hanna and her father move from California to North Dakota in the late 1800s with the intention of opening a dress goods store. Hanna learned much from her mother before her death that serves her well in her new life in North Dakota. Hanna’s mother taught her to sew and she blossomed into a gifted seamstress. Her mother also encouraged her to finish school and advised her, “For the person who is sour, do something sweet.” This was invaluable advice as she experienced some difficulties in her new community, especially as it relates to racial prejudices. Throughout the course of the book, we see Hanna become a strong and humble person who confronts the prejudices she experiences in her midwest prairie town. 

Park writes with honesty and sensitivity as she addresses a difficult topic,  She certainly crafted these stories of prejudice from personal experience. Our kids need to be reading these stories from another’s perspective, to develop understanding and empathy. 

Linda Sue Park’s books are always worthwhile. As someone who works in education, I think her books should be required reading. The bonus in making them required reading is that she is an excellent writer and students will enjoy the diverse characters and stories.
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Hard to put into words how excited I am for this book.  So many teachers search for a book that discusses the frontier experience, and Linda Sue Park, offers up a story that gives us a much more nuanced view of what happened to someone who was half-Chinese but still tried to settle on the frontier.  With a compelling character, historical research, and a story that pulls you in, I cannot wait to see what others think of this book.
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Prairie Lotus
by Linda Sue Park

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group

Clarion Books

Children’s Fiction

Pub Date 03 Mar 2020

I am reviewing a copy of Prairie Lotus through Houghton Mifflin Harvourt Children’s Book Group/Clarion Books and Netgalley:

Hanna is a half Asian girl in the Heartland of America in the 1880’s. She’s new to town, and has to adjust to her new surroundings and with that comes to deal which means having to deal with the towns almost unanimous prejudice against Asians.

Hanna could not let the towns attitudes stop her from reaching her dreams. She is determined to get an education, to work in her Fathers dress shop. And she dreams of making one friend.

I found Prairie Lotus to be a well written, well researched middle grade novel, touched on two tough subjects, coming of age and discovering who you are, at a time when everyone judges a person by the way they look, because they are half Asian, or whatever there difference may be.

I give Prairie Lotus five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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A phenomenal story whose main character you will empathize with and root for. An excellent substitution for the Little House books, it would pair well with The Wind Called My Name for a more diverse depiction of the territory than previous books have offered. It would also work well with The Other Half of Happy as part of an exploration of being bicultural. Highly recommend!
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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.
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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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Half-Asian Hanna has arrived with her white father to a new and growing prairie town. The community is not, however, welcome to Hanna, who has to fight to ensure her place in school and whose presence threatens her father's newly formed business. Hanna is a likeable and thoughtful MC who is able to distinguish friends from foes and doesn't balk at acknowledging (at least to herself) when her allies are less brave and more complacent than she wishes they would be. While the book ends on a cheery note there's something sad and longing throughout the entire narrative that makes one hope Hanna is able to one day leave the community which so badly undervalues her.
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I went into this book not sure what to expect.  I am a fan of Linda Sue Park, but not of the original Little House books.  Not because of any of the current issues that concern adults about these books, but because I found them boring as I did most historical fiction.  Prairie Lotus was anything but boring.  I loved the characters and I could see the parallels to the Wilder books which Park was a fan of growing up, but she goes so far beyond them.  I found her author's note to be as interesting as the book itself.  I love hearing about the how and why of writing, not necessarily the nitty gritty detail, but the thought process and reasons for making certain choices.  It added even more shades of meaning to a story which already had a great deal of depth.   As always, the thought, research, and care she puts into her writing makes the book shine.  i can't wait to recommend this to the kids in my library.  I wish it were already released!
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Loved it! Really looking forward to sharing it with students.                ..                       .         .             ..
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14-year-old Hanna and her father journey in their wagon to LaForge, a town in the Midwest, for a new start. Hanna's mother, who died when she was 10, was Chinese. Will the people of LaForge be accepting of Hanna as she and her father try to open a shop? Will Hanna be able to attend school and earn her diploma, as her mother wished? Prairie Lotus is a compelling tale of life in a small town on the Midwestern prairie in the 1800s. Reminiscent of the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of this book, Linda Sue Park, includes an explanation of the similarities in a section included after the book's conclusion. Of interest to middle grade students, this selection would be a welcome addition to any elementary library collection. It's thought-provoking, engaging, and written with sensitivity.
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This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group - Clarion Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I am a fan of Linda Sue Park and have not read a book that I did not like.  Prairie Lotus focused on an Asian girl named Hanna who ends up in a small town and learns the small town lifestyle and what it means to get an education, a job as a dressmaker in her father's shop, and earn the acceptance of the townspeople and their discrimination against Asians. Even in the 1800's we are battling this issue and it is informative and quite the learning experience to see how it all began and how times have changed. Linda Sue Park does a brilliant job opening the eyes of the reader and transporting them into the small farm 1800s setting and exploring what the town was life for Hanna. Such a great read that the schools should definitely look into and that we would be happy to share with.

We will consider adding this title to our JFiction collection at the library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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