Hattie Big Sky

Hattie Big Sky

4.2 79
by Kirby Larson
     
 

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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,

Overview

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


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
In 1917, Hattie Brooks was a 16-year-old orphan who had spent most of her young life passed from one relative to another. But a letter arrives from an uncle she never knew she had, and everything changes as she leaves for eastern Montana to prove her uncle's land claim.

Hattie was no tenderfoot when she arrived in Montana, but in her first year there, she's forced to battle the hazards of weather -- bitter winters filled with blizzards, and summers of drought and the threat of wildfires. Though homesteaders arrive anticipating a difficult road, one thing Hattie hadn't expected to confront was a seething prejudice among her neighbors. At the height of the First World War, the patriotism and loyalty of German-Americans was suspect, and Hattie finds herself at the center of an unsubstantiated hatred for one of her neighbors, a man who has shown her nothing but kindness.

Larson's Hattie is based on the life of her great-grandmother, who proved a claim in Montana when she was just a girl. Drawn from historical documents and the diaries of former area residents, Hattie Big Sky carries with it an authenticity akin to the Little House books, but with a more complex structure and themes suitable for an older audience. One thing we can promise: Hattie Big Sky will lay "claim" to the hearts of Larson's readers. (Holiday 2006 Selection)
Booklist
Larson's vivid descriptions of the harshness of the work and the extreme climates, and the strength that comes from true friendship, create a masterful picture of the homesteading experience and the people who persevered. Hattie's courage and fortitude are a tribute to them.
American Library Association
Larson, whose great-grandmother homesteaded alone in Montana, read dozens of homesteaders' journals and based scenes in the book on real events. Writing in figurative language that draws on nature and domestic detail to infuse her story with the sounds, smells, and sights of the prairie, she creates a richly textured novel full of memorable characters.
Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
Hattie "Neither Here Nor There," orphaned at age five, has been farmed out to various relatives right up to age sixteen. Then she faces a dramatic turning point in her life. Her aunt (by marriage, thank goodness!) Ivy wants to farm Hattie out to help in Iantha Wells's boardinghouse; Hattie resists as she wants to finish school; her mother's brother bequeaths her a Montana land claim, a steadfast horse named Plug, and a contemptible cow known as Violet. With the blessing of her uncle (thank goodness he's a relative and a friendly one), Hattie takes off for the big skies of Montana, the warm comfort of a German American neighbor, the nefarious schemes of another smooth-talking handsome but angry young man, and long letters from her childhood friend Charlie, serving in Europe in World War 1. This well-researched and gripping novel firmly places its lively heroine in loneliness and debt on her rugged uncle's land claim. Her few excursions to the local village for supplies and celebrations confront her with the anger against German speakers and the unfairness of those in authority. Long days spent watering, digging, fencing, and counting her pennies should win her a home and full possession of her land, but, realistically, most land claimants didn't fulfill the necessary requirements within three years, and Hattie loses her land after all her hard work and perseverance. However, in just one year on the Montana land, she discovers what true friendship and family mean by standing by her neighbors. Her friend Charlie writes that he is longing to come home from the war to see her (and not that flirty girl Mildred), and she realizes just how wonderful her life might be in future. Her discoveryof enormous strength within herself as she makes independent decisions on what is right, how to lead her life, and build her character makes this a delightful and empowering book for young women who will enjoy some of the eccentric Montana characters as much as Hattie's forthrightness and intimate concerns.
KLIATT
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2006: Imagine Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie being all alone, a teenager, trying to establish a homestead in Montana. Larson has a grandmother in her family who did just that, and Hattie Big Sky is based on that woman’s experiences. Hattie’s uncle died before he could finish the requirements to own the homestead outright, and he wills his claim to young Hattie, an orphan who longs for her own home. Here is her chance. Fortunately, Hattie finds neighbors who become like family. It is 1917, the country is at war, and German immigrants are suspect as traitors. There are many such immigrants in Montana, and there are vigilantes trying to make anyone with a German name leave the area. Hattie’s next-door neighbors, who help her survive, include a man who is German, so the persecution comes close to her, even threatening her own home because she refuses to turn her back on her neighbors. Throughout the story, she writes letters to Charlie from her hometown in Iowa. Charlie has been sent as a young soldier to fight the war in France, so he too is being tried to his own limits of endurance. The details of Hattie’s care for her livestock, for planting, harvesting, worrying over money, dealing with intense cold in the winter and drought in the summer, are vivid, which is probably why I was reminded of the Little House books while reading this. Hattie’s strength and intelligence, her courage and loyal friendship make her a real hero. An unusual YA novel, an old-fashioned one, but moving and inspiring all the same. (Newbery Honor Book; ALA Best Book for YAs.) Reviewer: Claire Rosser
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

School Library Journal

Gr 6-10
Sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks does her best to improve her late Uncle Chester's homestead claim in eastern Montana in this recording of Kirby Larson's Newbery Honor Book (Delacorte, 2006) set in 1918. Homesteading is always hard, but it's even more difficult for a woman going it alone during World War I. Hattie's life is full of never-ending chores, including fencing and cultivating the land, and she must find the strength to fend off the schemes of a neighboring rancher to buy out her claim. The hardships and trials the teen faces are balanced by the friends she makes, including the Muellers, who encounter anti-German sentiment. Larson's inclusion of this element provides added realism to the novel. The ideas of patriotism, loyalty, and morality during war are explored in an obvious parallel to today's war in Iraq. Letters from Hattie's school chum Charlie, who is stationed in France, and her Uncle Holt in Iowa keep the story from feeling isolated. Actress Kirsten Potter provides deft narration, giving a few characters distinctive voices, but for the most part, she lets the story's own cadence carry it along. Some of the recipes mentioned, a bibliography, and a short explanatory note round off the recording. A very good choice for both public and school libraries.
—Charli OsborneCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
What dreams would lead a 16-year-old to leave her safe home in Arlington, Iowa, and take a chance on a homestead claim in Montana? Hattie Brooks, an orphan, is tired of being shuttled between relatives, tired of being Hattie Here-and-There and the feeling of being the "one odd sock behind." So when Uncle Chester leaves her his Montana homestead claim, she jumps at the chance for independence. It's 1918, so this is homesteading in the days of Model Ts rather than covered wagons, a time of world war, Spanish influenza and anti-German sentiment turning nasty in small-town America. Hattie's first-person narrative is a deft mix of her own accounts of managing her claim, letters to and from her friend Charlie, who is off at war, newspaper columns she writes and even a couple of recipes. Based on a bit of Larson's family history, this is not so much a happily-ever-after story as a next-year-will-be-better tale, with Hattie's new-found definition of home. This fine offering may well inspire readers to find out more about their own family histories. (acknowledgments, author's note, further reading) (Fiction. 12-15)
From the Publisher
★ “Larson creates a masterful picture of the homesteading experience and the people who persevered.”–School Library Journal, Starred

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375846410
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
12/26/2007
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
88,959
File size:
928 KB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Hattie Big Sky 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a very good book. I was really tired of all these books that are not well written and have unlikable characters; this book was different. Hattie was likable and had morals and values, like hard work. This book is predictable, but there is nothing wrong with that. It is one i could feel comfortable recomending to anyone.
LuLu12345 More than 1 year ago
Overall, I thought that Hattie Big Sky is a wonderful book. It helped me realize that dreams can come true,
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was slow at first but once you got into it, was a great read. I am desperate for a sequel, because I want to know what happens next! If you are reading, buy this book, it is so good and not to be missed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pure 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book would be boring but i am 13 and loved it! Kirby, you have to write a book two! I want to know more about Charlie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a sixteen year old girl, Hattie Brooks has been shuffled around from relative to relative many times. Hattie has a dream that some day she can belong to someone and have a real family. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously moves herself to Vida, Montana to take care of her late uncles homestead claim. Throughout her stay in Montana, Hattie fights hard times, harsh weather, a cantankerous cow and unforeseen tragedies. Her dream of making a home is championed with the help of her new neighbors, but is her dream of feeling belonged and loved ever championed? Hattie's good friend Charlie is fighting the Kaiser in France throughout the novel. Hattie writes him often explaining news and events that occurred during the previous week. Will this friendship last? Will Hattie ever feel like someone loves her? There are many themes throughout this book. One of the themes is having hope and believing in your dreams. Hattie would say, "Hope and Pray" to herself frequently, while struggling with hardships and trials. Throughout her life she has hoped to belong to someone, a family, and hoped to be happy for once. When an unexpected tragedy occurred that dramatically changed Hattie's life, she relied on hope to get through the hard times. Through hoping and believing in her dreams, she realized that there was a reason for everything and that there was a grand plan for her from the Lord. Another theme in this book is feeling loved and permanently belonged. For sixteen years Hattie has been shuttled from one relative to another. She has never truly felt like she has had a place to call home or a family that loved her likes parents should love their kids. She took major steps forward towards finding herself and finding those who loved and deeply truly cared for her when she moved to Vida, Montana to prove up on a homestead claim. If you are wondering whether or not to read this fantastic novel, there are many reasons to consider. The author, Kirby Larson, relates reality with dream in the writings. The novel also celebrates the true story of independence. However I did dislike a few things while reading it. I did not approve of how Larson used slang for the dialog of some characters. I also did not like the ending. I feel it does not show where Hattie ends up in her life and how peace and happiness are finally brought into her life. Even though there are a few dislikes, there are even more pros to this book. With reality and dreams, details in every tragedy, event and character; each chapter was suspenseful that kept me reading for many hours at a time. Overall, this was a pleasant book to enjoy.
colorguard_girl More than 1 year ago
Hattie Big Sky is a tale that I will never forget; the suspense with Hattie is thrilling. For example if she is going to survive the Montana weather/landscape, whether or not she will keep the land, or even if her friends will ever be welcome. This book is a read in bed kind of book it is definitely worth the wait for it from the library. Although I wish Hattie actually gets to see Charlie again and marries him so she isn¿t living alone. The great characters I think make the book itself, without them and their personalities I probably wouldn¿t have liked this book. I am a bookworm so I usually like a book unless it is just not up my alley or basically way out there. Hattie Big Sky is the perfect book for women and girls going through hard times like Hattie in the book she will show you how to act when times get rough trust me Hattie knows. At times in the book there are sad moments but those are taken over by all the other moments in the book when Hattie is content. I really would like to send some kudos to the author Kirby Larson for the wonderful story that reminded me of The little House on the Prairie my childhood favorite. It also reminded me about all the hard times I have had in my life, one of them moving to Nashville, but it was that reminder of the hard times that helped me get through times after I had read the book. Obviously I suggest that you read this book it is definitely worth it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I wish there was a sequel to this book and many authors but that isn¿t up to me.
HalieM More than 1 year ago
I think this is a great book with an amazing story.I love the characters and must say my heart was broken by the last 40 or so pages.I am glad I took the time to read this book because now I will be able to tell everyone how great it is!I wish you could have actually met the character Charlie in the book,since you only heard anything of him from letters.I hope everyone else enjoys this book as much as I do.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
To me, the main criteria for a good book is a cast of great characters, and this book definitely has that. Hattie is a very mature 16-year-old. She is an orphan who has been raised by first one relative and then another, and now she finds that she has inherited a homestead from an uncle that she never really knew. Her best friend has just joined the army to go fight the Kaiser in Germany at the outbreak of World War I. Hattie boards a train with her cat, Mr. Whiskers, to claim her new home in Montana.

When she arrives, she discovers that she will be required to finish "proving up" on the homestead...build an enormous amount of fence, and plant eighty of the three-hundred-and-twenty acres in wheat and flax, and she only has eight months left to accomplish this. The house is a one-room cabin that is barely habitable, and winter has Montana in its grip. Her livestock consists of a very congenial horse, and a contentious cow.

Hattie is a very resourceful girl, but life is difficult. Most of her new neighbors become fast friends, but some desperately want to claim her land for their own. Her dear friends, the Mullers, suffer bad treatment because of their German heritage and the War.

This is a fast-paced story of adventure with friendship, heartbreak, and joy. The believable characters will remain with you long after you have read the book, and the handsome villain isn't all bad. The suspense in this very entertaining book builds to a surprising climax that I didn't anticipate. Larson adds a couple of interesting-looking recipes in the back of the book that I'm anxious to try out, along with a bibliography of other great reading about the American West and homesteading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books! I am a bookworm and I loved it. It was very sad in parts but it was also happy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The characters and scenery are what make this book. It is a wonderful experience to join Hattie as she boards a train to a homestead inherited from her uncle. Unlike heroines in other 'go west, young girl' tales, Hattie is not a blind fool for love. Though she does have love interests, she makes solid decisions. She often sets aside the sappy feelings to suck it up and pull it out. This is a particularly good book for girls or women looking to find inspiration in difficult times. The book will encourage you to know that if people like Hattie could get through their challenges, you can get through yours! Characters flanking Hattie are tangible, and range from loathesome to loveable. The only reason I cannot give this an outstanding, five-star rating is because the author uses four or five catch phrases multiple times, distracting from the read. Still, I told my daughter to read this because I did love it, and I know that she will love it too. I hope she reads it soon so we can talk about the strength and perseverance of Hattie Inez Brooks!
Guest More than 1 year ago
To me, the main criteria for a good book is a cast of great characters, and this book definitely has that. Hattie is a very mature 16-year-old. She is an orphan who has been raised by first one relative and then another, and now she finds that she has inherited a homestead from an uncle that she never really knew. Her best friend has just joined the army to go fight the Kaiser in Germany at the outbreak of World War I. Hattie boards a train with her cat, Mr. Whiskers, to claim her new home in Montana. When she arrives, she discovers that she will be required to finish 'proving up' on the homestead...build an enormous amount of fence, and plant eighty of the three-hundred-and-twenty acres in wheat and flax, and she only has eight months left to accomplish this. The house is a one-room cabin that is barely habitable, and winter has Montana in its grip. Her livestock consists of a very congenial horse, and a contentious cow. Hattie is a very resourceful girl, but life is difficult. Most of her new neighbors become fast friends, but some desperately want to claim her land for their own. Her dear friends, the Mullers, suffer bad treatment because of their German heritage and the War. This is a fast-paced story of adventure with friendship, heartbreak, and joy. The believable characters will remain with you long after you have read the book, and the handsome villain isn't all bad. The suspense in this very entertaining book builds to a surprising climax that I didn't anticipate. Larson adds a couple of interesting-looking recipes in the back of the book that I'm anxious to try out, along with a bibliography of other great reading about the American West and homesteading. **Reviewed by: Grandma Bev
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a classic golden age "adult " novel about an orphan making her way in the world without cluttering up with grafic details though there is birth death flue epidemic dangerous bigots the handsome hero isn t and the endibg is less than happy i really look forward to 17 year old move to Seattle you may think thats too young for a newspaper reporter read edna ferbers bio buska
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amang! Such a great book! The sequel is also amzng!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could read this book over and over again
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book but at the end their was no point in reading it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVE it!!! Want to learn about Charlie more to. Hopefully Hattie and Charlie get MARRIED!!!!!!! Love charlie! Cant wait to read more in book 2.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this last year in 6th grade and i love this book it never gets old
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Newer read such go book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that having a really good book is important since i am in fourth grade. So when i read this book in class for a book prodject i knew that when i got older i would read it again and again. So when i go to a new grade i will always reread it so i can enjoy it so much more than when i read it now.I think this is my favorite book from this year and last year. I never thought i would like this ganra so much. I still love my books i am reading now but "Hattie big sky"is my total favorite book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!