Teen Scene

FEBRUARY 21, 2007
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
I really enjoyed this book! This historical fiction novel is based on the author's great-grandmother's homesteading experience in eastern Montana during 1918. Hattie Brooks unexpectantly inherits 320 acres from her late Uncle Chester. Traveling alone, save for her cat "Mr. Whiskers", from Iowa, 16-year-old Hattie goes to prove the claim, which requires her to cultivate 40 acres and set 480 rods of fence. She must live on the property and she must pay a fee of $37.75, and all this must be accomplished by the end of a 3 year period, which is now just 10 months away. Luckily Hattie's uncle has already built the "house". Backdrop to this seemingly impossible task in a harsh climate is World War I, where her best friend Charlie has been sent to fight the huns in France. The local people in Vida, Montana feel the effects of war through food rations, but also through required purchases of liberty bonds and war stamps that they cannot afford. Anyone not purchasing these proofs of patriotism may be jailed or otherwise bullied by the County Council of Defense, although this doesn't guarantee safety, especially to locals with German names or background. Fascinating story of survival and friendship, community and love that will appeal to teens in grades 6 and up. This has also just won the 2007 Newbery Honor Award for its excellent literary merit.

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