Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson is a tale of homesteading in the WWI era.

Hattie Brooks has always been "Hattie Here and There" -- an, orphan, passed from one set of relatives to another. When an uncle she has never met leaves her his homesteading claim in Montana, Hattie grabs the chance to have a place of her own . . . even though she doesn't really know much at all about farming. In Montana, she quickly learns a lot: how to milk a cantankerous cow, how to string a barbed wire fence, and the importance of tying an old mitten on the frozen pump handle instead of grasping it with one's bare skin! Hattie is helped along by her neighbors, Karl and Perilee Mueller. However, in those wartime years, anti-German sentiment runs high, and not all of the people in the area are as convinced of Karl's good nature as Hattie. Hattie has her own troubles to worry about, too -- Traft Martin, the sometimes-charming son of a well-to-do rancher, is intent upon expanding his father's holdings, and one parcel of land he's particularly interested in is the claim belonging to one Hattie Brooks. Can Hattie meet the requirements to prove up on her claim, or should she sell out while she can?

I reviewed the sequel to this book during the 48-Hour Book Challenge, and though I actually read this book before that one, I am just now catching up. I first read Hattie Big Sky shortly after it received its Newbery honor, and I liked it best of that year's crop of honorees. This time through, I find it stands up well to rereading. It's interesting to note that homesteading, something I think of in conjunction with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Oregon Trail, was still going on less than a hundred years ago. Larson brings together an interesting mix of elements, between homesteading and World War I, and it works beautifully.

(Reviewed from my personally purchased copy.)

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