post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Prairie Lotus
Author: Linda Sue Park
Major Themes: Chinese People, Racism, Pioneers, Sewing, Historical Fiction, Books for Girls
Synopsis: When a half-Chinese girl and her father move into a village in the Dakota Territory, and the people there don’t like her presence, what can she do to overcome their bias?
When I first started reading Prairie Lotus, it seemed like just another prairie story—but soon I realized it was quite different. Linda Sue Park has come up with quite a well-written story that makes her readers think about the world a bit differently—and examine their own attitudes toward other people.
Hanna and her father had been on the move for three years, searching for a place to settle. Hanna always hoped, when they entered a new town, that this would be their home for a long time, and that she would be able to go to school. As they approached LaForge, Dakota Territory, all she really looked forward to was being able to buy groceries; as usual, she stayed hidden while her father checked out the village. What a surprise when he announced to her that he had bought a lot and planned to build a dress goods shop.
Hanna started school while her father built his shop. After her classmates realized, on her second day, however, that she was half Chinese, she was suddenly one of only a few students left. Would she be forced to leave school before she graduated? And then there was her lifetime dream of making dresses. Could she talk her father into allowing her to sew a dress to display in the shop? Or would his fear of what the townspeople said prevent her from following her dream? What about the grand opening itself? Would people even come to it?
Prairie Lotus is a very thought-provoking look at racism. The Chinese people have always been looked down on in America, but they aren’t the only ones. The Indians are featured in this book, as well. Hanna realized that both Indians and “Chinamen” were being discriminated against by the white people, and she determined to do something to change people’s views. Although this is not a Christian book, I appreciate the way this author has portrayed the fact that all people are the same, and that it is not right to look down on others because of their physical appearance.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Hanna frequently uses Mama’s favorite curse: Rotten eggs. In chapter 23, two men try to molest her.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12
Links to buy this book:
Keywords: Chinese People, Racism, Pioneers, Sewing, Historical Fiction, Books for Girls