Prairie Lotus

by Linda Sue Park

Ebook, 2020




Clarion Books (2020), 277 pages


Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. HTML: Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multi-layered 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. Afterword..


Triple Crown Awards (Nominee — 2023)
Georgia Children's Book Award (Finalist — 2022)
Great Stone Face Book Award (Nominee — 2022)
Buckeye Children's & Teen Book Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2022)
Bluestem Award (Nominee — 2022)
Nevada Young Readers' Award (Nominee — 2022)
South Dakota Teen Choice Book Awards (Almost Made It — 2022)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2023)
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Honor Book — Children's — 2021)
Iowa Children's Choice Award (Nominee — 2022)
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Nominee — Grades 4-6 — 2022)
Flicker Tale Award (Nominee — Middle Readers — 2021)
Volunteer State Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2022)
Azia Books Diversity Award (Listed — 2022)
Maine Student Book Award (Reading List — 2022)
Nerdy Book Award (Middle Grade Fiction — 2020)
Project LIT Book Selection (Middle Grade — 2021)
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best: Kids (Fiction for Older Readers — 2020)


Original publication date


User reviews

LibraryThing member foggidawn
When 14-year-old Hanna and her father move to a new town on the South Dakota prairie, she hopes that it will be a permanent home for them -- a place where her father can start the dress goods store that he's always wanted, where she can go to school and get her diploma, and then maybe start
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designing and sewing dresses to sell to the ladies of the town. But Hanna's mother was Chinese, and racism rears its ugly head when Hanna starts attending the local school. Will she be able to achieve her dreams?

I really enjoyed this story, the author's answer to some problematic elements of the Little House series. With strong characters and good pacing, this is a book guaranteed to appeal to lovers of frontier stories. If you liked Little Town on the Prairie and Hattie Big Sky, you should seek out this one.
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LibraryThing member jothebookgirl
inspired by her love for The Little House on the Prairie books, Linda Sue Park has crafted a another stunning novel. Main character, Hannah, has a white father and a Chinese mother. She is considered a half-Chinese and half-white girl. After her mother’s death Hannah and her father move from
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California to a Little House–inspired fictional settler town.

Hanna’s mother had been, an aspiring and talented dressmaker and before becoming sick, taught Hannah her skills. Now Hannah and her father seek a fresh start in Dakota Territory. It’s 1880, and they endure challenges similar to those faced by the Ingalls’ family and so many others: dreary travel through unfamiliar lands, the struggle to protect food stores from nature, and the risky uncertainty of establishing a livelihood in a new place.

It was hard to experience the extreme 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. Hannah feels she must take her abuse if she and her father are to have a chance of survival on the frontier.
Do not skip the author’s deeply and personal note about the story’s inspiration.

While I thought the book excellent and meaningful I did not think the cover did justice to what you experience inside. The bonnet Hannah wears on the cover is significant, but Hannah appears a little cartoonish for such a serious and Important subject matter.

Nevertheless, this is another Linda Sue Park home run book.

(Historical fiction. 8-12)
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LibraryThing member deslivres5
Middle Grade historical fiction taking place in 1880s Dakota territory pioneer era.
14-year old Hanna, whose late mother was an Asian immigrant, travels from California to Dakota territory with her Caucasian father, experiencing racism due to her being multi-racial.
Hanna holds close to the values
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and teachings her mother instilled in her, from the way she treats the people she meets to the dressmaking skills she so loves.
Linda Sue Park provides an excellent Author's Note in which she delves into her love of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books, their effect on her during childhood and the rationale for her writing of her own book about another girl living on the prairie.
I re-read the Little House books (which I also loved as a child) as an adult and was more tuned in to their negative stereotypes of Native Americans and African-Americans. Prairie Lotus brings issues of racism towards minorities to the forefront of the story while also giving us slices of life in a pioneer town during that time period.
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Hanna is the daughter of a Chinese mother and white father. After her mother's death, Hanna and Papa left Los Angeles and moved eastward from place to place. Now that they are in the Dakota territory, Hanna hopes for permanence as Papa prepares to open a dress goods store. She is the only Chinese
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person in LaForge and experiences the familiar discrimination and hostility from classmates and adults, with some exceptions, such as teacher Miss Walters, Sam, and Judge Harris. Hanna's 13-year-old character seems almost preternatural in her awareness of what's behind the prejudiced attitudes and how she should respond (guided by her mother's axioms). But that's a minor point; her unique journey and perspective are of the greater value. Compelling and atmospheric.
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LibraryThing member villemezbrown

Inspired by the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder but aware of the modern day criticisms of them, Linda Sue Park has given us a peek at how a 14-year-old girl with a White father and a Chinese mother might have experienced life in a small town in the Dakota Territory in the 1880s. All
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Hanna May Edmunds wants to do is attend school and make dresses with the skills her mother taught her before she died, but she keeps running into obstacles put up by her classmates, the townspeople, and her own father.

Park is able to match the gentle family-centric tone of Wilder's books even while addressing many aspects of racism. Trigger warning: Toward the end of the book there is a sexual assault.


Really heart-warming book full of homages to the Little House series, but with a strong story and characters that more than stand on their own. Educational, enlightening, and relatable. I gave one bonus star for excellent and sorely needed representation in current children's historical literature.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Hanna and her Pa move to Dakota Territory in 1880, and she's hoping they can finally settle in and go to school. But that means revealing that she's part Chinese, and that's caused trouble before. Will the town's racism drive them out again, or will Hanna and her father be able to stay? Will Pa let
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her have her dream of making dresses for their shop?

This middle grade book has been getting good reviews lately, with the inevitable comparisons and contrasts to Little House on the Prairie - which is very much intentional, as the author herself was a fan of the series but knew there were racist characters and beliefs portrayed, and that no one like herself was in the story. Hanna has to deal with racism every day, and throughout the story it broke my heart to see her decide when to say something or stand up for herself and when she just didn't want to argue, even with her father. She's a great character, and it's a quiet, well-told story that would appeal to fans of historical fiction of the American West in the 19th century.
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LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
A very unique historical fiction that all fans of Little House - current readers or long past - should pick up.
LibraryThing member perkykeri
This is an excellent book. Well written and from another perspective I wouldn't have known. I'm glad to have read it and the authors note really ties everything together.
LibraryThing member NClegern
Prairie Lotus is Newberry award winning author Linda Sue Park's response to Little House on the Prairie. Park describes Prairie Lotus as “an attempt at a painful reconciliation” with a story she loved but also knew she would never have been allowed a place in because of the prejudice and views
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toward Native Americans (those that were not white) as "lesser".

While Little House on the Prairie emphasizes the survival of frontier life, Prairie Lotus exposes the overt prejudice and racially motivated microaggressions toward communities of color particularly Asian Americans through the perspective of its protagonist, Hanna.

Hanna, a biracial 15 year old girl longs to go to school, to have friends, and not have to hide away as different from white neighbors. Set in the Dakota Territory in the 1880s, Hanna's white father moves from San Francisco after the death of Hanna's Chinese and Korean mother. In their new community, Hanna struggles to attend school in the face of the prejudice of many neighbors.

**2020 Global Read Aloud middle grade selection
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LibraryThing member Beth.Clarke
Very good historical fiction, but better for middle schoolers than high schoolers. The Chinese immigrant story will appeal to readers. Park's book A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story is a much better book for high school. YA Golden Sower nominee 2021-22.
LibraryThing member CMOBrien
Good stuff.
LibraryThing member Ldecher
Hanna is a hardworking pioneer girl with an understanding heart and lots of skills: dress design, sewing, cooking, and hospitality. She's also brave and open to learning new customs, languages, and foods. She needs all of those in this fresh new story about starting a new life in a western town in
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the Dakota Territory in 1880.

With Hanna's first-hand knowledge of racism, (she has a half-Chinese and half-Korean mother and a white father), she thinks more deeply about the issues dividing the settlers and the "Indians" than most of the people in her new home. I love the way she makes friends with the women gathering "prairie turnips" even though she doesn't understand their language.

In the author's note, Linda Sue Park says she was influenced by Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books. I really like that the author took the trouble to put the Lakota language words into the story. I wish she also included the translations. :)

[Years ago, I went to see Dances With Wolves in a Minnesota movie theater. It was so cool to hear the Lakota language being spoken, and to know that local Lakota people could hear a film made with their language.]

Sensitive reader warning: There is a sticky moment with drunk and racist men behaving badly, but it is handled well. Another reviewer suggested that parents read before giving to children under age 12. Seems wise.

A great story about how one brave girl makes friends and influences her new home in small, everyday ways.
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LibraryThing member jennybeast
I, too, loved Little House as a child, and I'm loving this generations' wave of responses to it even more. From the frank discussion on microaggressions and racism to the loving descriptions of the inside of the dress goods store, this book is a treat. Hannah is a character to feel proud of, and
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her story is very well told.

advanced reader's copy provided by Edelweiss.
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LibraryThing member Daumari
Like author Linda Sue Park, I was a big Little House on the Prairie book fan. My second grade teacher read LHotP to us in class, and when we did a family trip to Michigan the next summer, my parents made stops in Plum Creek, MN and DeSmet, SD. Nothing fits a long roadtrip quite well like staring
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out the window at grass and thinking about Laura doing the same from the back of the wagon.

However, like Park it's hard to ignore the fact that the Ingalls family likely would've been racist to me with some of the aggressions that Hanna encounters (and as Park notes, are all things she's faced IRL). Historical fiction is whitewashed, and that gives an erroneous perception that history largely belongs to white people. Black and brown people have existed in all eras; do you think our ancestors stayed at home until deciding to move in the 20th century or something? Prairie Lotus is Park's way of reckoning with that childhood love while envisioning how girls like us would've lived in a pioneer town.

LH fans will find this a familiar place- small town with a one room school house, cheerful calicos and poplins, and salt pork. One of Hanna's classmates is an expy of Laura Ingalls Wilder herself (lived in the same states and wants to graduate & become a teacher soon). Unlike the Little House books, though, Park recognizes that indigenous people lived in the area and they have names & dialogue instead of being a nameless, voiceless Other. A lot of what 14-year-old Hanna faces from townsfolk is unfortunately timeless, and will be familiar to any nonwhite reader (as is the way she reacts, not wanting to give the satisfaction of a reaction especially as the only Asian these people have likely met).

Really loved this, and it was the perfect way to segue into my Little House reread. I'll strongly recommend this book in general, and also as a companion book for readers going through LH, especially those who Ma would've snubbed.
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(78 ratings; 4.4)
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