Today Marshmallow reviews Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park. Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.
Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, tell us about this book. What is it about?
Marshmallow: Well, this book is about a girl named Hanna who dreams of becoming a dressmaker. But the thing is that she is part Chinese: her father is white and her mother was Chinese-Korean, and she is living in a very white place in the Dakota territory.
S: It sounds like something happened to her mother.
M: Yes, sadly Hanna’s mother died when she was a little younger.
S: That is very sad.
M: But before that happened, she taught Hanna a lot about sewing and stuff. So now Hanna is really good at making clothes. But this book is placed in, I think, 1880. She can sense that the people at the town she just moved into wouldn’t treat her well if they knew she was part Chinese, so she hides her face. But once they discover her heritage, they start being mean to her.
S: Today too, we see anti-Asian hate, and in fact we have been seeing it get stronger this last year. But the book is about a time that is quite a few years earlier, you mentioned the Dakota Territory, in 1880. Racism and this kind of bigotry might have been even more common.
M: Yes. Hanna’s father came to open a store in the town, and she is worried people might not want to go to their store. And people call her mean names sometimes, and even the kids at her new school are cruel to her.
S: This sounds like a pretty bleak story. Do good things happen to Hanna ever?
M: Well, she does have some friends and some people treat her well. So it is not always that sad. But I do think this might be a book appropriate for older bunnies. Younger ones might find it too sad or scary.
S: Scary? Why do you say that?
M: At some point people try to hurt Hanna physically because she is Asian. It can be scary, especially for little bunnies.
S: I see.
M: But don’t worry. It is not a completely depressing book.
M: You can read about how Hanna enjoys dressmaking and the ending is happy.
S: Well, so one has to wait till the end to get a sweet flavor?
M: No no no. It is a good story and you learn about that time in American history a bit, through the eyes of a young person who does not quite “fit in”.
S: As you are telling me the plot, I am realizing I do not know too much about that part of the history of the United States. Maybe we should read up on it together?
M: Yes, maybe. I am also reading other books in school that are about people living during that period of early American history. Maybe I can review some of them for the blog some time?
S: That would be awesome Marshmallow! So let us wrap this up then. Would you recommend this book to other bunnies?
M: Yes! But as I said, not the really young bunnies, but those who are a little older. And a parent bunny might want to read it too before to see if they think their little ones might appreciate the book.
S: That sounds good to me. So how do you rate this book?
M: I rate it 95%. You really get to feel for Hanna and have a good sense of life back then for people of different backgrounds.