Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hattie Here-and-There

She thinks of herself as Hattie Here-and-There. That's because, after her parents died when she was young, she was shuffled from one relative to another - never settling in one place for long.  At age 13 she moves in with Uncle Holt (really a distant cousin) and Aunt Ivy. For three years she is at the mercy of the rather unkind and bossy Ivy.

Then things begin to look up.

A real uncle (her mother's brother) has died and left Hattie his 320-acre homestead in Montana. Hattie, now 16, leaves Iowa and sets her sights west to, like so many others, make a home for herself.

Such is the tale that takes place in 1918 as told in Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. The story is based on the homesteading experiences of the author's great-grandmother. 

I am reading about Hattie along with a young woman who is going into the eighth grade and is not too fond of reading. Her mother and I are hoping that having someone to talk to about the story will help her to become enamored with the saga of Hattie. 

Just a few chapters in, I already am loving this book. For someone so young, Hattie is brave to take on such an enormous responsibility alone but it is just that "backbone" that her deceased Uncle Chester was counting on when he left her the homestead. 

The author has given Hattie an engaging voice and manages to paint a picture of life in that part of America against the backdrop of World War I. For example, here is a list of the supplies Hattie buys her first day in Wolf Point, the town that is thirty miles from her new home:

one-quarter barrel of wheat flour
25 pounds of sugar (this is rationed due to the war)
15 pounds cornmeal
20 pounds of coffee
raisins and other dried fruits
a tin of loose tea
tinned meats and canned goods
assorted spices

I can't imagine having to travel 30 miles to do my shopping and having to buy groceries in those quantities.  

Anyway, we will just have to see how Hattie handles her new life in Big Sky Montana. I have a feeling she will do just fine. 


  1. I can't imagine having to buy those quantities and at such distances either, not to mention doing it at the age of 16! This is just the type of story that captivated me as young girl, and still does, Belle. I will be reading this, I am sure.

    I find it quite wonderful that you are reading this along with this young girl. I hope it will be engaging for her and spur her on to other books. I don't know what I would have done without books as I entered 8th grade. I had friends, but, girls are often so fickle at that age. Books are not.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Penny. Hattie is really quite lively. I am learning a bit about American history as well. And, how to make a poultice to staunch bleeding! I am meeting with my young friend tomorrow to compare notes on Chapters 1-5. We shall see how it goes.

      Did you read "Caddie Woodlawn" as a girl? I loved it and re-read it a couple of years ago and was amazed at how much I still was enthralled by this story of growing up on the frontier in the 1860s. I highly recommend it!

    2. I hope your discussion goes well today, Belle. I admire what you are doing.

      Yes. I did read "Caddie Woodlawn" and I have visited the Caddie Woodlawn site near Menominee, WI, though not when the house was opened. It is a beautiful site, just off the road, with forest and farm still around it. Frontier life has always captivated me.

      No view of the supermoon last night due to cloud cover here. Goodnight Moon was always a favorite with our daughters. When youngest, Katy, went off to college, she and her new roommate chatted long into the night, as those things goes when one goes off to school for the first time. Finally, Katy said "goodnight moon". Kim did not know the book. Kate, being Kate, was incredulous - so, gave her the book for a birthday present.

      I do ramble. Sorry.

    3. Thanks for your interest, Penny. My 'student' likes Hattie too. There was a lot of terminology and vocabulary that she was not familiar with, so we worked through that. Now on to Chapters 6-10!

      I love that you have been to the CW house, Penny. I didn't even know there was such a place. How wonderful.

      And, how generous of Kate to 'share' her moon with her friend. She must take after her mom!