Hanna is tired of moving from place to place. Since her mother died, her father has moved them from California further and further east. Hanna longs to stay in one place, to go to school, and dreams of being a seamstress. She draws and designs any chance she can. And she hopes that this latest move to LaForge, in the Dakota Territory, will be a lasting one.
Hanna is half Chinese, and faces discrimination and prejudice wherever she goes. Hanna herself shows kindness to the Native Americans in the story. She faces challenges in making friends and is determined to change people’s minds, despite the hurt that she feels. Young readers will be drawn in to Hanna’s story, feeling her pain, and rooting for her as she seeks a way to find a place for herself.
Linda Sue Park says that it took her whole life to write this book. It’s personal, based on her childhood love of Little House, and her experiences as a Korean American in the United States. She explains this experience in Sticks and Stones and the Stories we Tell, sponsored by SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can also read more about it in this New York Times Review.
Recommend to those looking for historical fiction — a welcome alternative to Caddie Woodlawn and Little House. I was a fan of the Little House books myself — they were the first chapter books that I read — a gift the Christmas that I was in second grade. I still remember vividly the feeling of trust — an important adult in my life believed that I could read these books. I’m so glad to have Prairie Lotus to recommend to young readers.