Prairie Lotus

Prairie Lotus

Book - 2020
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In Dakota Territory in the 1880s, half-Chinese Hanna and her white father face racism and resistance to change as they try to make a home for themselves. Includes author's note.
Publisher: Boston ; New York : Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2020]
ISBN: 9781328781505
Characteristics: 261 pages ; 22 cm


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Best Fiction for Older Readers of 2020 List created by ChiPubLib_Kids Chicago Public Library recommends these titles as the very best fiction books published in 2020 for kids in 4th through 8th grades. ZJ and his family are coping with his father’s debilitating headaches, increasing anger and frequent memory loss causes by injuries suffered in his professional football career in this novel in… (more)

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Best Fiction for Older Readers of 2020 List created by ChiPubLib_Kids Chicago Public Library recommends these titles as the very best fiction books published in 2020 for kids in 4th through 8th grades. ZJ and his family are coping with his father’s debilitating headaches, increasing anger and frequent memory loss causes by injuries suffered in his professional football career in this novel in… (more)

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How can Hanna, a Chinese-American girl living in the 1880s, get the education she deserves and follow her passion for dressmaking in the face of others’ prejudice? This Little House homage is ultimately uplifting in its depiction of a strong individual struggling with belonging, and strengthening... Read More »

Asian/Pacific American Honor for Literature (Children's Literature)

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FPL_StephanieP Apr 10, 2021

Following the death of her Asian mother, Hanna and her white father move from California to the Dakota Territory. As Hanna works hard to achieve her goals of graduating from school and becoming a dressmaker, she faces racism and discrimination from the town. This is an excellent historical fiction choice for middle grade readers and up.

JCLKarynH Mar 24, 2021

Prairie Lotus is one of those books that I wish had been published when I was kid. Author Linda Sue Park wrote this book to pay homage to Laura Ingles Wilder's popular Little House stories and to challenge their problematic aspects. She details her research and creation process in the author's note and it is fascinating. I learned some history of Chinese immigrants in 1800s America that I didn't know. Hanna Edmunds is someone every human, young or mature, should aspire to be. She manages to maintain her compassion and humanity despite those who seek to dehumanize her for her race. I think this book should be taught in schools alongside the Little House stories to show a more nuanced and representative picture of how Asians, Black and Brown people, and Indigenous tribes were treated during that era and the negative psychological and legal effects. Prairie Lotus couldn't be more timely as hate crimes against Asians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders rise in the U.S. I'd highly recommend this book to all middle-grade readers to start conversations about racial inequity and injustice and hopefully foster empathy and understanding.

Jul 06, 2020

I am not a big historical fiction fan, nor I am I a huge fan of Little House on the Prairie. What I am a fan of, is reimaginings or retellings of popular stories, which is what drew me to Linda Sue Park's Prarie Lotus. This is the story of Hanna, a young Asian girl who dreams of getting an education during the 1880's. Hanna must endure racism, prejudice, while also tackling what it means to have a dream that others who are privileged might not understand.

Hanna's story is very powerful, and reading it, I felt so sad that she had to constantly deal with being labelled as different or strange. It's heartbreaking to be a kid who constantly is being "othered" by those who choose not to educate themselves or even risk a conversation. In the Author's Note, Linda Sue Park talks about how this novel is based off of actual experiences she faced growing up, and the frustrations of not seeing Asian representation in middle grade fiction that wasn't racist in some way. She states that part of the reason Hanna has so much strength and courage to speak out about her situations, is because Park has stated she didn't know how to do it when she was a kid.

I really loved this story, and Hanna's strength really is admirable. She constantly defends herself and tries to educate others even though she shouldn't have to. Hanna wants to show people her dressmaking skills, and she wants people to see in her little Dakota town how valuable she is as a person. Poor Hanna constantly has to justify her existence, which is so wrong! Since this is the story of new immigrants moving from their home in China where people were being murdered to America where their difference is seen as "othering." Hanna and her family constantly show courage in this story, and they show that tenacity in a new place where they refuse to be mistreated.

Prairie Lotus is an intelligent, heartfelt story about finding strength and courage, but also dealing with issues such as racism head on. There are many difficult and powerful moments in this story, and it definitely has its place in being a very important story about loving yourself regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

Jun 22, 2020

This book was excellent. I could hardly put it down. I have enjoyed other books by Linda Sue Park, but this one might be my favorite. I can relate to Hanna's love of sewing and understand why it brings her peace. I sometimes had a hard time with her father, but that might just be because he didn't know how to handle situations which is probably quite realistic, given the situation. Hanna is a great way to show the racism that was happening to anyone that is and was not white.

OPL_KIDS Apr 06, 2020

This captivating story is set in 1880 in Dakota Territory. Hanna arrives with her father in the town of LaForge and is hopeful that she can attend a real school and graduate and proceed with her dreams of being a dressmaker. Filled with memories of her mother and the advice she passed on to her, Hanna grows more confident of who she really is. Hanna knows from experience that being half-Chinese will make these goals more challenging, but she is determined to not let the unkind townspeople stand in her way. While this story strikes similarities with the classic “Little House” series, readers will discover a compelling new perspective from a character who faces opposition simply because of her racial identity. Hanna’s persistence and self-acceptance will inspire others to look beyond the surface and see the heart of others.

Reviewed by Miss Rachel

Mar 07, 2020

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(LaForge) 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 lend dignity to them. 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!


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"PRAIRIE LOTUS is a story I have been writing nearly all my life. It is an attempt to reconcile my childhood love of the Little House books with my adult knowledge of their painful shortcomings. My wish is that this book will provide food for thought for all who read it, especially the young readers in whose hands the future lies." (Author's Note)

"Maybe that was part of what it meant to be independent: learning when to be strong on your own, and when to be strong with the help of others." p 197


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