cover image Prairie Lotus

Prairie Lotus

Linda Sue Park. Clarion, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-328-78150-5

Newbery Medalist Park explores prejudice on the American frontier in this sensitively told story about a multiracial girl and her white father in Dakota Territory. Hanna, 14, and her father have been traveling for nearly three years, since her half-Chinese, half-Korean mother’s death. When they settle in railroad town LaForge in April 1880, Pa plans to open a dry goods store, and talented seamstress Hanna, taught by her mother, fervently hopes to attend school before designing dresses for the shop. Though the town reacts strongly to their arrival, mocking Hanna and keeping children home from classes, the girl perseveres by emulating her mother’s gentle strength. Strongly reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novels in its evocative, detailed depictions of daily frontier life, the book includes an author’s note acknowledging Park’s efforts “to reconcile my childhood love of the Little House books with my adult knowledge of their painful shortcomings.” Though Hanna’s portrayal at times hews closely to the “exceptional minority” mentality, her 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. Ages 10–12. [em]Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Ltd. (Mar.) [/em]