Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

January 31, 2007

Hattie Big Sky

By Kirby Larson
Era: 1918, Montana
Newbery Honor 2007
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Hattie Brooks is a 16 year old orphan, living on the charity of her far-removed cousins, when an uncle she had never met leaves her his claim on 320 acres in eastern Montana. If she wants it, Hattie has less than a year to "prove" the claim on the land by planting 40 acres of crops, putting up miles of fencing, and having a "house" of sorts built. With no bright future awaiting her at home, Hattie jumps at the chance and treks out alone to the plains of Montana. She learns about homesteading the hard way, facing the extreme temperatures, dangers of the land and the trials of farming. But she also makes some firm friends in the Muellers: Karl, Perilee and their children, Rooster Jim, and Leafie, who help her in her education and eventually become the family she never had. Hattie also faithfully writes to her good friend Charlie, part of the Allied forces in France, but finds herself face to face with the war at home when German-born immigrants are persecuted, like her friends the Muellers. Over her months in Montana, Hattie will learn more than homesteading--she will learn the value of friendship and family. Although the story starts a little bit slowly, this is a moving story of courage in the face of hardship. Fans of historical fiction and the Little House on the Prairie series will find much to like here.