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Description

Product Description

This Newbery Honor winning, New York Times bestseller celebrates the true spirit of independence on the American frontier.

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. Her quest to make a home is championed by new neighbors Perilee Mueller, her German husband, and their children. For the first time in her life, Hattie feels part of a family, finding the strength to stand up against Traft Martin’s schemes to buy her out and against increasing pressure to be a “loyal” American at a time when anything—or anyone—German is suspect. Despite daily trials, Hattie continues to work her uncle’s claim until an unforeseen tragedy causes her to search her soul for the real meaning of home.
 
This young pioneer''s story is lovingly stitched together from Kirby Larson’s own family history and the sights, sounds, and scents of homesteading life. 

AN AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION BEST BOOK FOR YOUNG ADULTS
A SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK
A BOOKLIST EDITORS'' CHOICE
NAMED TO 13 STATE AWARD LISTS

"A marvelous story about courage, loyalty, perseverance, and the meaning of home." --Newbery Award-Winning Author Karen Cushman

Review

★ “Larson creates a masterful picture of the homesteading experience and the people who persevered.”–School Library Journal, Starred

About the Author

After Kirby Larson heard a snippet of a story about her great-grandmother homesteading in eastern Montana, she spent three years working on this story. The author lives in Kenmore, WA.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

December 19, 1917 Arlington, Iowa

Dear Charlie,

Miss Simpson starts every day with a reminder to pray for you—and all the other boys who enlisted. Well, I say we should pray for the Kaiser—he’s going to need those prayers once he meets you!

I ran into your mother today at Uncle Holt’s store. She said word is you are heading for England soon, France after that. I won’t hardly be able to look at the map behind Miss Simpson’s desk now; it will only remind me of how far you are from Arlington.

Mr. Whiskers says to tell you he’s doing fine. It’s been so cold, I’ve been letting him sleep in my bedroom. If Aunt Ivy knew, she’d pitch a fit. Thank goodness she finally decided I was too big to switch or my legs would be striped for certain.

You should see Aunt Ivy. She’s made herself a cunning white envelope of a hat with a bright red cross stitched on the edge. She wears it to all the Red Cross meetings. Guess she wants to make sure everybody knows she’s a paid-up member. She’s been acting odd lately; even asked me this morning how was I feeling. First time in years she’s inquired about my health. Peculiar. Maybe this Red Cross work has softened her heart.

Mildred Powell’s knitting her fifth pair of socks; they’re not all for you, so don’t get swell-headed. She’s knitting them for the Red Cross. All the girls at school are. But I suspect the nicest pair she knits will be for you.

You must cut quite the figure in your uniform. A figure eight! (Ha, ha.) Seriously, I am certain you are going to make us all proud.

Aunt Ivy’s home from her meeting and calling for me. I’ll sign off now but will write again soon.

Your school friend, Hattie Inez Brooks


I blotted the letter and slipped it in an envelope. Aunt Ivy wouldn’t think twice about reading anything she found lying around, even if it was in my own room, on my own desk.

“Hattie,” Aunt Ivy called again. “Come down here!”

To be on the safe side, I slipped the envelope under my pillow, still damp from my good cry last night. Not that I was like Mildred Powell, who hadn’t stopped boo-hooing since Charlie left. Only Mr. Whiskers and my pillow knew about my tears in the dark over Charlie. I did fret over his safety, but it was pure and sinful selfishness that wet my eyes at night.

In all my sixteen years, Charlie Hawley was one of the nicest things to happen to me. It was him who’d stuck up for me when I first came to live with Aunt Ivy and Uncle Holt, so shy I couldn’t get my own name out. He’d walked me to school that very first day and every day after. Charlie was the one who’d brought me Mr. Whiskers, a sorry-looking tomcat who purred his way into my heart. The one who’d taught me how to pitch, and me a southpaw. So maybe I did spend a night now and then dreaming silly girl dreams about him, even though everyone knew he was sweet on Mildred. My bounce-around life had taught me that dreams were dangerous things—they look solid in your mind, but you just try to reach for them. It’s like gathering clouds.

The class had voted to see Charlie off at the station. Mildred clung to his arm. His father clapped him on the back so often, I was certain he’d end up bruised. Miss Simpson made a dull speech as she presented Charlie with a gift from the school: a wool stocking cap and some stationery.

“Time to get aboard, son,” the conductor called.

Something shifted in my heart as Charlie swung his foot up onto the train steps. I had told myself to hang back—didn’t want to be lumped in with someone like Mildred—but I found myself running up to him and slipping something in his hand. “For luck!” I said. He glanced at the object and smiled. With a final wave, he boarded the train.

“Oh, Charlie!” Mildred leaned on Mrs. Hawley and sobbed.

“There, there.” Charlie’s mother patted Mildred’s back.

Mr. Hawley took a bandanna from his pocket and made a big show of wiping his forehead. I pretended not to notice that he dabbed at his eyes, too.

The others made their way slowly down the platform, back to their cars. I stood watching the train a bit longer, picturing Charlie patting the pocket where he’d placed the wishing stone I’d given him. He was the one who’d taught me about those, too. “Look for the black ones,” he’d told me. “With the white ring around the middle. If you throw them over your left shoulder and make a wish, it’s sure to come true.” He threw his wishing rocks with abandon and laughed at me for not tossing even one. My wish wasn’t the kind that could be granted by wishing rocks.

And now two months had passed since Charlie stepped on that train. With him gone, life was like a batch of biscuits without the baking powder: flat, flat, flat.

“Hattie!” Aunt Ivy’s voice was a warning.

“Yes, ma’am!” I scurried down the stairs.

She was holding court in her brown leather chair. Uncle Holt was settled into the hickory rocker, a stack of news- papers on his lap.

I slipped into the parlor and picked up my project, a pathetic pair of socks I’d started back in October when Charlie enlisted. If the war lasted five more years, they might actually get finished. I held them up, peering through a filigree of dropped stitches. Not even a good chum like Charlie could be expected to wear these.

“I had a lovely visit with Iantha Wells today.” Aunt Ivy unpinned her Red Cross hat. “You remember Iantha, don’t you, Holt?”

“Hmmm.” Uncle Holt shook the newspaper into shape.

“I told her what a fine help you were around here, Hattie.”

I dropped another stitch. To hear her tell it most days, there was no end to my flaws in the domesticity department.

“I myself never finished high school. Not any sense in it for some girls.”

Uncle Holt lowered one corner of the paper. I dropped another stitch. Something was up.

“No sense at all. Not when there’s folks like Iantha Wells needing help at her boardinghouse.”

There. It was out. Now I knew why she had been so kind to me lately. She’d found a way to get rid of me.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
340 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

S. Werkema
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Life on early 20th-century prairie farm
Reviewed in the United States on May 23, 2018
The idea of a sixteen-year-old girl homesteading in Montana by herself - even a century ago - is startling by 21st-century standards. Hattie is so hard-working and committed that''s it''s hard to imagine the story could have happened in real life, although the author says it... See more
The idea of a sixteen-year-old girl homesteading in Montana by herself - even a century ago - is startling by 21st-century standards. Hattie is so hard-working and committed that''s it''s hard to imagine the story could have happened in real life, although the author says it did, albeit with some alterations. Hattie''s an admirable young woman, although not easy to relate to, in my opinion. During the first half of the book, I felt I was observing more than experiencing her life and circumstances. During the second half, she seemed more real, and I can''t say whether somehow the writing changed or whether I changed. Eventually I felt invested in Hattie, and some parts of the narrative moved me deeply. As it happens, my husband''s grandparents tried to start a farm in Montana around the same time as Hattie; they lost the farm, lost two children to measles, and returned home to Michigan sad and disillusioned. Hattie''s story shed significant light on what my husband''s grandparents may have had to endure. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it as helpful commentary on prairie farm life during the early twentieth century.
2 people found this helpful
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Roehl G Sybing
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good read for literature teachers
Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2015
I use this book for an EFL literature class, and my students find it pretty accessible to them. I enjoyed reading it along with them over a five-week sequence, as it highlights a strong female character in a difficult environment. There''s plenty of material in the book from... See more
I use this book for an EFL literature class, and my students find it pretty accessible to them. I enjoyed reading it along with them over a five-week sequence, as it highlights a strong female character in a difficult environment. There''s plenty of material in the book from which to garner discussion in class, something any EFL reading teacher looks for in their students as a sign of emerging fluency.

The story itself has many layers and is indicative of the depth of a lot of good literature (which I use in class to contrast against early Disney movies, many of which are rather simplistic and straightforward). However, as a reader, I think some of those layers are incomplete. The WWI angle regarding Americans'' fear of immigrants was broached but not with any sense of resolution. Not that there needs to be a happy, simple resolution, but the storylines regarding the story''s main immigrant and the group of antagonists that sought to maintain their brand of patriotism seemed rather abandoned late in the book. There is a lot of historical context that Larson brings up without going really deep enough into parts of them that might have illuminated the plot further.

Nonetheless, I think if readers are looking for a character that emphasizes the empowerment of women and (more importantly, as it turned out in this story) the empowerment of youth, Hattie Big Sky is a fairly extensive sketch of a personal narrative that should keep readers engaged. The main protagonist feels real without the sense of angst and embellished heroism we see in a lot of YA novels popularized and turned into movies. As a reader, I enjoyed the story, and as a teacher, I would recommend it to any literature teacher who is looking for alternatives to the Great Books that may be inaccessible to students who need a good stepping stone into deep extensive reading.
4 people found this helpful
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Jonathan
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
ripped
Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2020
My poor review is not about the writing quality. My book arrived pretty ripped in the back (about 2" long) along with the last 15-20 pages. Yes, I know I can return this, but I''m mostly getting tired of the poor quality of the "new" condition books on Amazon. I have... See more
My poor review is not about the writing quality. My book arrived pretty ripped in the back (about 2" long) along with the last 15-20 pages. Yes, I know I can return this, but I''m mostly getting tired of the poor quality of the "new" condition books on Amazon. I have returned a few of them that are pretty bad, dealt with others. I''ve had a lot that arrive dirty, some ripped like this one- with the packaging still intact, so not a shipping issue. At this price it''s not really worth the hassle of going to the store downtown to return it (my only local option), but I really think the quality should be better than this.
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heatherlovess
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I didn’t hate the book
Reviewed in the United States on March 6, 2018
How this is a New York Times bestseller is beyond me. I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t actually like it either. I thought the writing was poor and a lot of the characters were underdeveloped. A lot of the time the author didn’t finish thoughts and I found myself... See more
How this is a New York Times bestseller is beyond me. I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t actually like it either. I thought the writing was poor and a lot of the characters were underdeveloped. A lot of the time the author didn’t finish thoughts and I found myself confused as to who someone was or what was happening. The ending was terrible. So many loose ends and questions.
2 people found this helpful
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Brooke Miller
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Must Read
Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2017
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson This novel reveals much more than the difficult life on a homestead in Montana. Sixteen-year-old Hattie Inez Brooks may be a single girl preparing for the adventure of a lifetime, but she had no idea what she would encounter under... See more
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
This novel reveals much more than the difficult life on a homestead in Montana. Sixteen-year-old Hattie Inez Brooks may be a single girl preparing for the adventure of a lifetime, but she had no idea what she would encounter under Montana''s big skies. Within a handful of months, Hattie created lifelong friendships, cultivated a difficult terrain, stood up to bullies, and overcame obstacles time and time again.
Kirby Larson does a phenomenal job sharing a new perspective into the first World War. This book encourages readers to look past a person''s name and appearance and to look deeper into the person''s character. Another aspect of this book that I appreciated was that Larson fostered empathy for others though this pioneer''s story.
This historical fiction novel is a wonderful read that I encourage others to put on their book list!
4 people found this helpful
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A. H. Coleman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
About a 4.5
Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2017
I liked this story because it speaks of a girl who went to an unknown area and persevered despite hardships she encountered. I got a small idea of what it must have been like for a person who was an American citizen, but with an immigrant past to be considered an enemy;... See more
I liked this story because it speaks of a girl who went to an unknown area and persevered despite hardships she encountered. I got a small idea of what it must have been like for a person who was an American citizen, but with an immigrant past to be considered an enemy; despite not having done anything but being born abroad. I ❤ the book references to recipes and true experiences of those who actually settled this land.
2 people found this helpful
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J. Humphreys
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great read.
Reviewed in the United States on January 4, 2015
This is an engaging historical narrative about a young girl who attempts to fulfill her uncle''s claim during WWI. It is very interesting to see how Hattie survives out on her own at such a young age, and also how she realizes that she is not really alone, but receives much... See more
This is an engaging historical narrative about a young girl who attempts to fulfill her uncle''s claim during WWI. It is very interesting to see how Hattie survives out on her own at such a young age, and also how she realizes that she is not really alone, but receives much help from kind neighbors, including a German immigrant who experiences racial prejudice due to his common nationality with the enemy during the war.
4 people found this helpful
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Di P.
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good story, poor narrator.
Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2019
Hattie Big Sky was a good story, with a likable protagonist; however, I had a very difficult time listening to this narrator, who had an over-the-top way of narrating which made me feel the character was disingenuous at times, and that the character was not true to her age... See more
Hattie Big Sky was a good story, with a likable protagonist; however, I had a very difficult time listening to this narrator, who had an over-the-top way of narrating which made me feel the character was disingenuous at times, and that the character was not true to her age of 16, in spite of the character''s premature push into adulthood over her early years.
A narrator can make or break a story, and this one broke it for me.
One other point, there was an incorrect historical event regarding the invention of the dishwasher.
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Top reviews from other countries

Cocoa beans
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Noticeably fewer teenage temper tantrums already
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 16, 2016
My little sister LOVED this book. She''s 13. I bought it for her Christmas present, it arrived promptly. She read the whole book, cover to cover, in one sitting and now wants to be independent, responsible & proactive just like Hattie. Noticeably fewer teenage temper...See more
My little sister LOVED this book. She''s 13. I bought it for her Christmas present, it arrived promptly. She read the whole book, cover to cover, in one sitting and now wants to be independent, responsible & proactive just like Hattie. Noticeably fewer teenage temper tantrums already.
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Helen
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
typical
Reviewed in Canada on January 2, 2014
I found this book pretty good, it even made me cry at several parts! But it wasn''t THE best book I''ve ever read. However, I do look forward to reading the next one.
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