Tuesday, June 30, 2020

PRAIRIE LOTUS by Linda Sue Park.  New York: Clarion Books, 2020.  261p.  ISBN 978-132878150-5 hc. $16.99     Gr. 6-8    JUV FIC

After a three-year wagon ride from California, Hanna and her father arrived in LaForge, a small railroad town in the Dakota Territory, to build a dry goods store.   Hanna’s Chinese/Korean mother was a seamstress before she died, and instilled the same dreams in her daughter.   But before she tries to convince her father that she’s capable of making dresses for the townswomen, Hanna wants to go to school.  The teacher accepts her ethnicity well, but the parents begin to keep their children home, rather than have them exposed to a non-white student.  Luckily, the Harris family has already befriended Hanna and her father, and continue to support them with schooling and building the business.  Hanna also has interactions with Ihanktowan women, who teach her how to harvest and cook prairie turnips.  Racism runs deep in this historical fiction from 1880, that reminds readers of Laura Ingalls’ “Little House on the Prairie” books.  The author leaves a personal note that recognizes discrimination in the original books, but also acknowledges the historical value of the stories.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

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