Hattie Big Sky

Hattie Big Sky

by Kirby Larson

Paperback(Reissue)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385735957
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 12/23/2008
Series: Hattie Series Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 134,512
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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.

Reading Group Guide

1. Describe Hattie’s relationship with Aunt Ivy and Uncle Holt. What does Uncle Holt see in Hattie that Aunt Ivy doesn’t? How does Uncle Holt continue to support Hattie after she moves to Montana?

2. Hattie travels to Montana on the Great Northern Railway. She reads a pamphlet on the train that describes Montana as “the land of milk and honey.” Discuss Hattie’s first impression of Montana. How might Hattie describe this land by the end of the novel? In the last chapter, Hattie goes to Seattle. What does she expect to find there that she doesn’t have in Montana?

3. Explain what Perilee Mueller means when she tells Hattie that her resemblance to Uncle Chester goes beyond looks. How does this give Hattie a sense of family? Why are the items in Uncle Chester’s trunk so important to Hattie? There are many mysterious things about Uncle Chester. How does this mystery give Hattie the courage and determination to prove up on the claim?

4. Perilee and Karl Mueller meet Hattie at the train, and welcome her to their family. How does their relationship grow as the novel progresses?

5. Karl Mueller is mistreated by the citizens of Vida because he is German. How does Hattie’s friendship with Karl and Perilee make her a victim of bullying? How do the bullies create an atmosphere of mistrust and fear? At what point does Hattie experience the most fear? She says, “The worst thing of all is standing by when folks are doing something wrong.” (p. 164) Explain how Hattie attempts to right the wrongs.

6. Hattie says, “I guessed Charlie and I were in the same boat. We’d both signed on for something we’d envisioned as heroic and glamorous.” (p. 120) How is Hattie’s effort to save her uncle’s claim heroic? Discuss how Charlie's idea of a hero changes after he witnesses the death of his comrades.

7. Describe how Hattie changes in the year that she spends on the Montana prairie. Debate whether her idea of “home” is different by the end of the novel. Hattie says, “I’d arrived alone, and I wanted to leave that way.” (p.282) Why is this so important to her? How is she a success even though tragedy prevented her from proving the claim?

8. At the beginning of the novel, Hattie says, “My bounce around life had taught me that dreams were dangerous things.” (p. 3) Why was Hattie so afraid of dreams? How does she learn that dreams do come true? What about Charlie? Do his dreams come true? How do their dreams collide?

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Hattie Big Sky 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 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
kmasterson07 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I listened to this book on Audio tape. It is a deligtful book and excellent historical fiction. It shows both the tough life of homesteading in the early 1900's and the hardship of the first World War both on the solidiers and the people at home of German heritage. I was totally entranced by the story. Call me sentimental but I loved this book until the ending. The authors choice to not have the woman keep the farm was really disheartening and I could not see the point especially when it was based on her grandmother who did "prove up." I also didn't believe the family that gave up their farm and left. Like I said call me sentimental.This book would be excellent to use with a US History class either excerpts or the whole book. It is an excellent recording.
Librarygirl66 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
After inheriting her uncle's homesteading claim in Montana, sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.
mschwander on LibraryThing 28 days ago
In 1918, sixteen-year-old orphan, Hattie Inez Brooks, finds her life completely changed when she learns that her estranged uncle hasdied and left her his 320-acre, Montana farm. Having to meet the condition that the farm be cultivated within one year, Hattie isfaced with an intense challenge which involves surviving a wicked Montana winter, protecting her farm from the cruelties of nature,and facing the Spanish influenza which whips through the village. This is a story beautifully told through first-person narrative aswell as through letters to an uncle and good friend serving in the war. Readers will get a vivid glimpse into the mood of Americanstowards the war effort and the anti-German sentiment which many held. The author includes an interesting end note which explainsher inspiration for the story and the parallels she found with the present Iraq war
cpotter on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Gr 6-8-Larson relates a heartwarming yet poignant story about homesteading in early-20th-century Montana. Until the age of 16, orphan Hattie Brooks lived with whichever relative needed extra household help. Then she receives a letter telling her of an inheritance from her Uncle Chester, whom she had never met. Hattie is to receive his land claim, the house and its contents, one horse, and one cow. When she arrives from Iowa, she learns that she has 10 months to cultivate 40 acres and set 480 rods of fence, or lose the claim. While the story relates the hardships of frontier life and how Hattie "proved up" to the challenge, it also tells of World War I bigotry and discrimination toward German Americans. Hattie's sense of humor, determination, and optimism come through in her letters to her friend Charlie, who is serving in the military in France, and through letters to her Uncle Holt, which are published in his hometown newspaper. 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.
tasha on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I am a long-time lover of pioneer stories having been raised on Laura Ingalls Wilder. This novel is a wonderful, more modern extension to the pioneer story. In 1918, Hattie is left a homestead claim in Montana by her maternal uncle. Both of her parents are dead and Hattie has lived with a series of ever-more-distant relatives. The homestead finally gives her a place to call her own. But in order to stake her claim, she has to farm a certain amount of the land and fence it. Hattie finds a real life on the Montana prairie, with neighbors she loves and lots of hard work. The homestead aspect of the story makes it accessible and fascinating. But into this world comes World War II. Hattie has a friend who is fighting overseas and people in Montana begin to question whether her German neighbors are actually enemies of the state. Oppressive fees and demonstrations of patriotism are forced upon the homesteaders despite their meager amounts of money. It takes the book to another, more complex level.I completely delighted in this novel. It starts out and appears to be a story of farming and toil and becomes much more than that. Nothing is easy in the book, there are no simple answers, no sudden successes, and no miracles that save Hattie or other homesteaders from failure. It is brutally honest, amazingly readable, and impossible to put down.Recommend this to teens who enjoy historical fiction, but also encourage others to try it. Hattie is an incredible female character who embraces a new way of life and builds herself the life she wants. Teens will find her inspiring and see themselves and their abilities in a new light. This is certainly one of the best of the year.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Hattie is an orphan and has been shuffled around among relatives her whole life. She's tired of being Hattie Here-and-There. So when a letter comes from an uncle she never knew saying that he had left his claim in Montana to her, Hattie knows that it's fate calling and goes off to Montana to prove her claim. In order to prove the claim, she must finish the fencing and plow 40 acres of the land. It's a totally new kind of living for Hattie and much harder than she expects. Luckily, she makes some great friends... but tensions caused by the first World War are creating some problems for her German friends... Is Hattie strong enough to stand up for what she knows is right? A great read with a strong female main character. A little bit of violence, but nothing sexual. Ages 13+
av71 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I like the decriptions of the farm animals and Hattie's neighbors' children, Hattie's grateful conversational prayers with the Lord, the tension in the town that made the book suspenseful, and an ending that wasn't what I expected. I also liked that Hattie wasn't an unrealistically noble person or an evil one. An absorbing book to me which is not surprising as I am a definite fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder too.
FionaCat on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Hattie Big Sky is the story of sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks, who has been shuffled from one relative's home to another for years. When her uncle leaves her his homestead claim in Montana, she decides it's time to make a home for herself. Her new neighbors include a family with a German father, who help her settle in and work on the claim. But World War I is raging in Europe and the other families in the area are suspicious of anyone with ties to the enemy -- Germany.Hattie struggles to prove up on her land and stand up to the intolerant locals who can't see that Mr. Mueller is a good man despite his nationality. This is a wonderful book full of descriptions of the prairie, the hardships of pioneer life, and the joys of friendship and family. Though the ending is bittersweet, I truly enjoyed this book.
jlsherman on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Wonderful story. Follows 16 yr old Hattie Brooks on a journey in finding courage, loyalty, perseverance, and the meaning of home.
marnattij on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Wonderful YA historical fiction is often hard to find, but the story of Hattie and her attempt to homestead by herself in Montana in the early 1900s does not disappoint. When her uncle dies and leaves her his farmstead, Hattie travels west by herself and learns about the hardships of farming and the strength of friends and family.Beautifully written, engaging, and humorous. Will appeal to girls of any age.
mermaidgirl on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I loved this story of Hattie and I was routing for her the whole time. Orphaned hattie learns her Uncle has left her a homestead in Montana and she has less than a year to cultivate it to keep it. She meets wonderful people and befriends the Meullers and their children. A wonderful story full of hope.
idcstaff on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Hattie is a 16 year old orphan who goes to Montana to take over a claim from her late uncle. This book does a good job of describing what life might be like for a single, young girl trying to homestead alone. Great follow up to the Little House series. The endings and solutions are not neat and tidy which will appeal to an older crowd
BrendasBooks on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Not just for young adults. Truly deserves Newberry Honor status. Set during WWI, Orphaned Hattie, 16, inherits uncle's Montana homestead claim, finds challenges, wonderful friends, prejudice, heartach.