Monday, November 26, 2007
Hattie Big Sky - Mary's Thoughts
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.
In her bio, Kirby Larson said that writing made her happy, made her crazy and was a compulsion. "I tried to quit once. That lasted for six months." I'm sure life, as we know it, would've gone on its merry way without Hattie Big Sky, but how much we would've missed!
I was just a few pages into the book when I read a line that made me smile. Left me without a doubt that this was a special this book, and Ms. Larson's writing was special, too. After a very rough start under the big sky of Vida, Montana, Hattie Inez Brooks sat down to the first meal in her new home. A meal provided by her new neighbor, Perilee Mueller. "The stew tasted of sage and carrots and hope." That line made me pause; made me think. If only we could all grab hope from the simple pleasures and kind gestures of life.
The book is based on Kirby Larson's great-grandmother's attempt to make a go of the homestead her Uncle left her in his will. From Hattie's struggles with the bitter winter, the stifling, bug-infested summers, and the anti-German sentiment that threatened her best friend, Perilee Mueller and her husband, Karl, we are there with every beautifully-written word.
If Hattie had known in advance the hardship of that year in Montana, would she have abandoned her dream? I choose to believe she would've stuck it out. The Hattie I came to know would never have given up without a fight.
Hattie Big Sky comes highly recommended by this reader for all age groups.
Kirby Larson's Hattie Big Sky, a 2007 Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild Selection, and School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.
Mary Cunningham Books