Prairie Lotus

by Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books, March 3, 2020
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1328781505
272 pages, ages 10-12

Prairie Lotus

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.

Resources

Educator guide

Resources, Chinese and Chinese American, late 19th century

Native American resource guide: A PowerPoint presentation compiled by author and educator Andrea Page (Oceti Sakowin Hunkpapa):

<em>Prairie Lotus</em>Native Resources

Interviews:

Podcast: Connections with Evan Dawson, “Author Linda Sue Park on her new book, “Prairie Lotus,” WXXI (Rochester, NY), 20 March 2020

Fan Fiction, 50 Years Later,” Linda Sue Park, The Writer’s Life, Shelf Awareness, 13 March 2020

Q&A with Linda Sue Park,” Krystyna Poray Goddu, Publishers Weekly, 27 February 2020

Linda Sue Park Rewrites Little House on the Prairie with an Asian-American Heroine,” Nalini Jones, The New York Times Book Review, 6 March 2020

Reviews and Appreciation

“I have always admired the subtle power and gentle clarity of Linda Sue Park’s writing. Even when dealing with truly sensitive subject matter, she always manages to bring out the basic humanity in her characters in ways that make her work accessible to readers of all ages. Prairie Lotus is no exception. If anything, this may be her most ambitious and best book yet. It deals with a theme—the development of the West— familiar to fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder. However, quite unlike Wilder’s books, her non-European characters are neither stereotypes nor peripheral to the story. Rather than picturing the hard struggle to settle a “frontier,” the book deals with relations between people of many backgrounds—European American, Native American and Asian American—as seen through the eyes of her beautifully realized main character, whose mixed ancestry never holds her back. It’s a vivid picture of a setting, Dakota Territory, and a period, the 1880s, which has been the focus of countless westerns. Yet because of Park’s empathy, understanding of the complexity of the coming together of cultures, and wonderful ability to create memorable characters, the readers of her story will see that time and place in an entirely different, more complex, and more realistic way.”

Joseph Bruchac (Nulhagen Abenaki citizen), author, storyteller, and educator

“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 Reviews (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)

“…captivating…The parallels to the Little House series are deliberate—and at times delicious…For Little House fans, novels such as Prairie Lotus…expand Wilder's fictional terrain in ways that are not only deeply satisfying but crucial to our national identity. Prairie Lotus is an independent work. But those who read both Wilder and Park might find that the experience also broadens their understanding of what books can do: how they speak to one another across generations, how they animate us to find stories of our own.”

—The New York Times Book Review, Nalini Jones

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The hardcover of Prairie Lotus is available from your favorite independent bookseller, your public library, or these online retailers:

Prairie Lotus