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'Prairie Lotus': Brighton author's new book retells America's Western frontier story

Mar 2, 2020

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Acclaimed children's author and Brighton resident Linda Sue Park is releasing a new book on March 3.

"Prairie Lotus" is the story of Hanna, a half-Chinese girl who moves with her father to a small town in the American heartland in 1880.  Hanna's mother has died and she's trying to reimagine life without her. Hanna is also determined to make at least one friend, graduate from school, and work as a dressmaker in her father's new shop.

But first, she must overcome and challenge the prejudice she faces from her new classmates and neighbors.

Park said the book is, in some ways, her attempt to confront the racism in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" series she read as a girl.

"I loved those books when I was a child," she said, "but even as a child, there were parts that bewildered me and puzzled me. The characters speak about people of color in incredibly derogatory ways. Ma hates Indians; she calls them savages. She says, 'The only good Indian is a dead Indian.'

"What that meant to me, even though I'm not a Native American, is that Ma would never have allowed Laura to be friends with me," said Park, who is Korean American. "So I wrote a book in which an Asian girl moves to a town and makes friends with a girl like Laura so I could rewrite the hurtful parts of that book and give readers a different story."

Park won the Newbery Medal in 2002 for "A Single Shard." Her 2011 book, "A Long Walk to Water" was a New York Times bestseller.

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Park.