Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Children's Book Review: 'Hattie Ever After' by Kirby Larson

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
Delacorte Press, 2013

After Kirby Larson wrote the Newbery Honor-winning Hattie Big Sky she had no intention of writing a sequel. But when readers started asking what happened to Hattie next, the author found herself wondering as well.

In Hattie Ever After, Hattie Inez Brooks joins up with a vaudeville troupe to leave Great Falls and seek her fortune in the San Francisco. She repeatedly rebuffs her beloved Charlie's advances in the pursuit of her dream to be a big-city reporter. She forms friendships (and even a hint of another romantic intrigue), has adventures, and solves mysteries in her slow but persistent climb from newspaper cleaning woman to researcher to reporter in spite of the barriers against women in the workplace in 1919.

Hattie Ever After has an air of nostalgic innocence that many parents wish existed in some of the more realist contemporary young adult fiction. While Hattie travels alone, faces sexism, and is betrayed by friends, she is never in any serious danger, and her long-distance relationship with Charlie never exceeds a quick stolen kiss.

Her rapid rise in the men's world of newspaper reporting makes it look easier than it must have been for many women during that period. But it is interesting to catch a glimpse of what life in early 20th century America must have been like. The author includes a note at the end of the book about her research process and describes which scenes were inspired by real-life events.

Pre-teen girls and conservative parents will likely fall for Hattie's all-American ambition to succeed in her career while still holding out hope for a happily-ever after with her high school sweetheart.

Kirby Larson is a two-time New York Times bestselling author and has also partnered with her dear friend Mary Nethery to write award-winning nonfiction picture books, including Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival. Kirby is hard at work on her next historical novel. Learn more about her at kirbylarson.com or read her blog at kirbyslane.blogspot.com.

Renée Vaillancourt McGrath has worked at Montana Public Radio as a program host since 2002. Her background is in librarianship and she currently works as a freelance editor, blogger, and website developer. Check out more of her book reviews at reneesreads.com.

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