Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hattie Big Sky

Title: Hattie Big Sky
Author: Kirby Larson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Date Finished: 15 March 2008
My Rating: 5 Stars
2007 Newbery Honor Book (and so much better than the winner from 2007!!)

"For most of her life, sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks has been shuttled from one distant relative to another. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she summons the courage to leave Iowa and move all by herself to Vida, Montana, to prove up on her late uncle's homestead claim.
Under the big sky, Hattie braves hard weather, hard times, a cantankerous cow, and her own hopeless hand at the cookstove on her quest to discover the true meaning of home."

I loved this book! I am so glad I decided to read all the Newbery medal and honor books because otherwise I might never have read this amazing story. I should point out that I have researched a lot and read a lot about WWI and I love reading books about this period of history. So based on that I was probably predisposed to like this book.
Larson said she wanted to write a story about homesteading in the time of Model T's instead of Wagons and based the idea of a 16 year old girl homesteading on her own on her great-grandmother's experiences.
The characters are what made this story. Hattie finds herself surrounded by a whole cast of vivid and individual characters. It is through her associations with these people, the good and the bad that Hattie learns her own strength. I loved the letters and newspaper columns that start out most of the chapters. I thought Hattie's voice was charming and true to the period.
I imagine that some people would not like the ending but I thought it was perfect. I think it was an ending full of hope and anticipation for the future.
Larson even includes some recipes at the end of the book!
My only real complaint is that I felt Larson was trying to push a bit of her own political agenda in the story.

You can read the first chapter of Hattie Big Sky here.


Susan said...

Thanks for your comment - I'm glad you liked it, too. I have to say that I didn't like the ending at first, but then I realized it was realistic and actually perfect. It was very hopeful, like you said.

Reading all the Newbery's and Honor books is a great idea. I'm doing the Newbery Project, but I hadn't thought about doing all the Honor books, too. So many books, so little time ...

Laurel said...

I often like the honor books better than the winner for that year.

Debbi said...

I saw this book at Target and bought it because I remembered that you had read it and loved it. It was so great! Even with the ending, my book and a Q&A section in the back and the author said she might write a sequal, which I would love so I can see what more happens. I think it might have been really cheesey-to-good-to-be-true if it would have ended the way I wanted.

Thanks for the recommendation!