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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: montana, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 16 of 16
1. Chip of the Flying U

Jenn recommended Chip of the Flying U, by B.M. Bower, about a year ago, and that’s probably how long it’s been sitting on my Kindle. I don’t know why I picked it up this weekend, except that the internet in my apartment wasn’t working and I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about anything I was more familiar with, but I’m glad I did. It’s almost entirely delightful, one of those books that does enough right that you don’t care that much about the stuff it doesn’t. And if you have to be content with a kind of ham-fisted ending, well, everything before that is so much fun that the book has kind of earned the right to fall apart in the last chapter.

The Flying U is a Montana ranch owned by James G. Whitmore, and Chip is a sensitive, artistic cow-puncher. Don’t laugh; it’s awesome. He’s got a square chin and long eyelashes and a horse he loves a lot, and it’s kind of over the top, but in a cute way. Della Whitmore is cute, too. She’s the younger sister of James G., paying an extended visit after graduation from medical school, and she’s got grey eyes and dimples to go with Chip’s chin and eyelashes.

She makes a positive first impression when she shoots a coyote with Chip’s rifle on the way back from the train station, the day of her arrival. The rest of the book is about him being in denial about being in love with her, basically. There’s no reason he should deny it, except that Della writes frequently to a Dr. Cecil Granthum. So Chip mopes, and “the Little Doctor” flirts with him and displays a fair amount of unreasonable behavior. I worry this is meant to make her seem more feminine. But more importantly, she’s good at her job, and he’s good at his, and there’s humor and artistic triumphs and a tiny bit of adventure besides. It’s a funny book and a sweet one, and while I found Della inconsistent, and Chip almost unrecognizable in the final scene, it his enough of the right buttons at the right times that I smiled my way through the entire book.


Tagged: 1900s, bmbower, montana, romance, western

10 Comments on Chip of the Flying U, last added: 9/25/2014
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2. Which Way USA? Hidden Picture preview.


Now I have to go to Montana.

0 Comments on Which Way USA? Hidden Picture preview. as of 5/3/2013 11:23:00 AM
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3. You’ve Got to be Kidding

Yaks!

Yaks! (Photo credit: bdearth)

Yes, we are having a heat wave here in NW Montana. It hit 87° F. here today while we were out on photo safari. That’s rare for mid-May up here.

Today’s safari took us to places we don’t frequent often, to see what was available for the lens and the Muse. We visited The Garden of the Thousand Buddha’s down in Arlee before moving west. It’s a Buddhist temple area sitting on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Garden is coming along, though inclement weather isn’t doing it any favors in exposed areas around the central huge Buddha.

A bison roaming about at the National Bison Ra...

A bison roaming about at the National Bison Range in Montana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people suspect that we have bison ranches. In fact, we have the National Bison Range just southwest of the town of Charlo. Did you know that we have ranches running musk oxen and yak? Yep. We scouted out one such ranch down in the Camas Prairie area of Sanders County.

Along the way, we picnicked along the Flathead River and watched kayakers braving deep spring run-off waters. Osprey fished along those same turquoise waters, daring bald eagles to infringe on nesting territories.

Squirrels warned off those who came too close and pileated woodpeckers took their time with smaller trees a few yards from the car. Young quaking aspens waved at us, not having aged enough to rustle in the breeze. Smoke from a suspected new wild fire in the mountain range south of Highway 200 filled the valley with tension; not uncommon, merely early in the season.

Overall, it was a good day.

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4. Poetry Prompts: We’re Having a Rendezvous

Authentic historical reenactor in buckskins

Authentic historical reenactor in buckskins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the hardest realities for me is that almost anything can trigger a story or poem. I don’t have to go looking for something. A prompt will always find me. I’m writing this post instead of my usual one for a reason.

I’m out of town for three days. Yes, it’s true. I went to attend a rendezvous: the annual Mountain Man Rendezvous here in Montana. It’s been many years since I attended such an event, and I find a great sense of anticipation toward this one.

In case you don’t know what a Mountain Man Rendezvous is, I’ll give you the quick skinny on one. Take pioneering/explorer types from the modern world; dress them in period 18th Century mountain man costuming; hand them black powder rifles and hand axes; and tell them to find out who shoots the best and throws the straightest, and you’ll have the makings of a Rendezvous.

Sprinkle in skills test for both men and women from those days from history, and you have a great weekend. When you combine the whole thing with one town’s annual celebration of town-hood and the like, you have a free-for-all from two countries. Yep, those mountain men and women will be coming down from Canada, too. It’s going to be great!

Therefore, in honor of our weekend activities, I thought I’d put a few poems prompted by the coming events to hold everyone over until I return on Monday. I hope you enjoy the fare here during my absence. Be sure to leave a comment to let me know if I’ve hit the target or not.

It’s All in the Wrist

How many westerns have passed

Behind my mind’s eye, pointing out

The Throw–the flight–the target

Smacked a solid THUNK!

Tomahawk embedded, buried

To mid-point up the blade?

 

How many times did baby bro

Recreate those scenes, practicing

The Throw, closer to center each time,

Always taking a step back to lengthen pace?

Did he have plans for needing an axe

Or just a need to prove himself to self?

 

Watching both men and women take

Places on the line, raise arm, tomahawk

Shaft gripped with purpose, steady–strong,

I see that need to prove to self, to others

That history can repeat itself, can come alive

To find a place now, appreciated and honored.

 

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

Slow Antique, Still Deadly

 

Crack!

Black powder report,

Smoke drifts from lock’s contact,

Sulphur permeates with each repeat.

So goes the rifle shoot out

Made for mountain men,

Crack!

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

5. One Million Books in Just Ten Days: The Final Reckoning

One Million Books in Just Ten DaysRecently, First Book promised to distribute one million brand-new books to kids in need across the country in just ten days.

Those ten days are up, and we are as good as our word. Better, even … altogether we distributed a little over 1.2 million books to the schools and programs in our national network. Woot!

25,000 of those books went to kids at Title I schools across Montana. Heather Denny, a Title I specialist in Montana who was instrumental in helping First Book distribute the books at a statewide conference of Title I teachers, emailed us this morning to tell us how excited her colleagues were.

Heather Denny, a Montana teacher, on First Book“It was amazing!” she wrote. “You should have seen the smiles on our teacher’s faces. We had a retiring teacher who worked in the book room all day because she wanted to see the young teachers coming in and leaving with boxes of books.”

If that doesn’t warm your heart, you are made of sterner stuff than we are.

First Book volunteers in MilwaukeeThanks to everyone who made this possible, from the hard-working volunteers who spent long, tiring days in warehouses to the generous publishers who provided the books to our nonprofit and corporate partners who provide the support needed, and especially to all the teachers and local program leaders who take these books and use them to turn kids into readers.

Want to get involved in our next amazing book distribution? Click here to sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you monthly emails sharing stories and letting you know how you can get involved in your community.

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6. Book Review: Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie at age 16 is an orphan living in Iowa with a distant relative. The year is 1917 and America is at war with Germany. Hattie's dear friend Charlie is at war. Throughout Hattie Big Sky she and Charlie write letters to each other. Hattie's letters are full of her current daily life and the hope of his safe return. Shortly after the book begins she receives an unexpected and surprising letter. Her uncle has died and left her a home-stead claim in Montana. If she agrees to take over his claim and continue to make improvements over the course of 1 year, she may keep the land. Hattie gladly accepts the terms of agreement on her deceased uncle's claim. She travels by train to Wolf Point, Montana and is greeted by a family that will be her closest and heartiest neighbor. The book describes her daily duties of a back-breaking hard life, of trying to make a desolate claim a profitable farm. Hattie is a gutsy, independent, brave gal. She has a positive outlook, teachable, humble, and has a sense of humor.
She and her house mate, a mouser cat named Mr. Whiskers make a go of this laborious goal.

I loved this story and really wished it could go on and on, sorta like Little House on the Prairie.
Hattie is a genuine and likable character. A gal that anyone would be proud to call a friend.
Her story is inspiring, engaging, uplifting, and gives the reader a sound sense of what it is like to live with the bare basics in a remote shanty in the middle of no-where. Also, giving the reader the ability to understand the Pioneer spirit; that feisty independent brave and just a bit crazy gusto, to head west and conquer something!

This book was a 2007 Newbery Honor Award

Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books 2006
304 pages/For ages 12 and up

Authors website:
http://www.kirbylarson.com/books/hattie-big-sky/
The book has a website:
http://www.hattiebigsky.com/

Link @ Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Hattie-Big-Sky-Kirby-Larson/dp/0385733135
Library Binding $13.42
Paperback $6.99
Kindle $6.99

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7. Animal Chin Lives Here

Last month the good people at the Montana Skatepark Association invited me to create work on a skate deck for their annual fundraising gallery show called ON DECK 7.

The money raised will go towards construction and maintenance of  Missoula’s MOBASH skatepark. The art decks will be displayed on May 4th, at the Brink Gallery in Missoula, MT where they will also begin the silent/online auction. So lookout for that come May! Visit the MSA website for more information.

Anything that keeps us active and off the streets is A-OK with me! 

I was super psyched to be given the opportunity to create work on a skate deck since I’ve never worked on a surface like this before. Prior to receiving the skate deck I had a few ideas in mind but nothing sounded as fun as creating a tree house and possibly a place where Animal Chin lives! (Special thanks to the BF, for telling me the Legend of Animal Chin.)

Here’s the fun process of finding Animal Chins House:

 

Step 1:  I started out with a quick sketch of the tree and a faint mapping of where I’d like to see the leaves.

Step 2:  I painted a thin layer of gesso on top of the sketch.
Step 3:  Laid out some color for the grass and painted layer of green as an underpainting for the tree.

Step 4:  Started to lay in some actual color for the tree trunk..There goes my boss…micromanaging.


Step 5: 
 Once I got the trunk texture down, I worked on the house, and added a thin layer of gesso on the stairs for later.


Step 6: 
 I started to work on the stairs, and the little look out point on the middle left making sure to use a slightly different wood tones for the stairs so the tree and wood wouldn’t blend.

Step 7:  I was really planning to keep the natural wood exposed for the finish but it was looking too brown and very monochromatic. (Boo.) So I placed some contact paper on the tree hou

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8. Calling All “Relatives”

The first day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) is officially begun. This month’s theme is “Relative,” which means daily posts related to one’s family, however the writer defines “family.”

I will say up front that my definition of “family” is a bit broader than many, but more limited than some. Confused? Don’t be. I figure that if I love, care for, and am concerned about, a person, I consider them family in one sense or another.

Also, I’m a perverse person at times, who regularly reads magazines and catalogs from the back to the front. While I know that today’s suggested prompt is “mother,” I intend to save her for last.

Having said all of that, I’m going to begin with surrogate family, before moving on to real, blood-related people.

Many years ago, I was privileged to teach at a small Native American College here in Montana. The first class I taught there, Intro to Sociology 101, was peopled with mostly matriculated students, both Native American and White.

One who sat close to the front was a marvelous character who had an imp of the Irish within and a laugh that carried everyone along for the ride. Lou was bright, inquisitive, and talented. He played guitar in a band to help support his family while he went back to school for a degree.

A couple of months later I found myself sitting at Lou’s dining table for a Thanksgiving dinner. There was always room at the family table for another diner, with/without an invitation. Drop in and you were invited to partake in whatever meal was being served.

That was a marvelous day, filled with laughter and discovery as to who these new friends were, who were making a place for themselves in my heart.

Over the next year, Lou and I discovered some peculiar links between us. The more we talked, the more “deja-vu” things became. We’d both lived in Jackson, WY, at the same time, went to the same places, knew some of the same people, and yet, had never met. We knew the same woman in Detroit who owned a business just outside the boundary of Greektown. I’d been there several times during a period of residency in Rochester.

Those were just two of the oddities. It was as if our lives had been entangled in this family way for so long, while neither knew of the other’s existence.

There are those who posit that people connect with those whose souls have always been close to them over time and in past lives. I cannot refute that any more than I can prove it.

All I can say is that this man is as close to me in some ways as a brother of blood would be, that I hurt if he’s in distress, and that his family is as dear to me as the one into which I was born.

I don’t get to see him often enough. We live hours apart now, but when schedules and weather permits, I go to see this other family of mine. I get to talk with both Lou and his wife, two of their children, and get to know the grandchildren now. And while their trials are their own, as mine belong to me, they will always hold a piece of my heart and thoughts and reside in my prayers each night.

I love you all, Lou, warts and all.

Claudsy


2 Comments on Calling All “Relatives”, last added: 2/2/2012
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9. Calling All “Relatives”

The first day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) is officially begun. This month’s theme is “Relative,” which means daily posts related to one’s family, however the writer defines “family.”

I will say up front that my definition of “family” is a bit broader than many, but more limited than some. Confused? Don’t be. I figure that if I love, care for, and am concerned about, a person, I consider them family in one sense or another.

Also, I’m a perverse person at times, who regularly reads magazines and catalogs from the back to the front. While I know that today’s suggested prompt is “mother,” I intend to save her for last.

Having said all of that, I’m going to begin with surrogate family, before moving on to real, blood-related people.

Many years ago, I was privileged to teach at a small Native American College here in Montana. The first class I taught there, Intro to Sociology 101, was peopled with mostly matriculated students, both Native American and White.

One who sat close to the front was a marvelous character who had an imp of the Irish within and a laugh that carried everyone along for the ride. Lou was bright, inquisitive, and talented. He played guitar in a band to help support his family while he went back to school for a degree.

A couple of months later I found myself sitting at Lou’s dining table for a Thanksgiving dinner. There was always room at the family table for another diner, with/without an invitation. Drop in and you were invited to partake in whatever meal was being served.

That was a marvelous day, filled with laughter and discovery as to who these new friends were, who were making a place for themselves in my heart.

Over the next year, Lou and I discovered some peculiar links between us. The more we talked, the more “deja-vu” things became. We’d both lived in Jackson, WY, at the same time, went to the same places, knew some of the same people, and yet, had never met. We knew the same woman in Detroit who owned a business just outside the boundary of Greektown. I’d been there several times during a period of residency in Rochester.

Those were just two of the oddities. It was as if our lives had been entangled in this family way for so long, while neither knew of the other’s existence.

There are those who posit that people connect with those whose souls have always been close to them over time and in past lives. I cannot refute that any more than I can prove it.

All I can say is that this man is as close to me in some ways as a brother of blood would be, that I hurt if he’s in distress, and that his family is as dear to me as the one into which I was born.

I don’t get to see him often enough. We live hours apart now, but when schedules and weather permits, I go to see this other family of mine. I get to talk with both Lou and his wife, two of their children, and get to know the grandchildren now. And while their trials are their own, as mine belong to me, they will always hold a piece of my heart and thoughts and reside in my prayers each night.

I love you all, Lou, warts and all.

Claudsy


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10. Listing Year’s Winners

Well, my friends, we’ve come to another holiday season. There are those looking back to count accomplishments. Others are making goals for the coming year. Lists are popping up everywhere.

Since that’s the case, I’ve decided to make a list of my own, or more. Why should I stand back and let everyone else have all the fun?

List 1: 2011 Accomplishments

  1. Visited with family and friends across the country during the winter and saw things totally new to me.
  2. Arrived back in Montana with all fingers and toes from the research trip from Hell. Sanity somewhat dented but still workable.
  3. Procured livable apartment and had money to pay for it and the food to keep us going throughout the rest of the year.
  4. Managed to have many submissions accepted for magazines and newsletters
  5. Reinvested in my craft through university coursework
  6. Got through another rewrite on The Moon Sees All and began what is hopefully the last rewrite before being submitted.
  7. Came to a point where I can see the blessings that grew from this past year’s trials on the road.

List 2: 2011 Blessings–The Short List

  1. Repeat List 1 for emphasis
  2. Can still say that I’m healthier than many I could name
  3. Learned more than I ever thought possible about too many things to mention
  4. Watched the struggles and accomplishments of friends and family, knowing that they came through whole, if dented, and I can still enjoy them
  5. I have a home, food on the table, clothes to wear, work to do that makes my heart sing most days, friends everywhere, family that I love, and I’m moderately warm for a snowy day.
  6. My country hasn’t imploded yet, even if it is shaky in some quarters
  7. I’ve lived long enough to appreciate the simple things of life

List 3: 2012 Goals

  1. Repeat List 1, numbers 1 and 4 through 7
  2. Get everything that’s already on my computer—stories, essays, poetry, children’s books, etc.—submitted somewhere
  3. Finish travel book and get submitted
  4. Finish women’s mystery novel and get it submitted
  5. Finish YA fantasy novel and get it submitted
  6. Finish “Failures to Blessings: Finding the Silver Lining” and, you guessed it, get it submitted
  7. Survive to write another day

Assuming I accomplish the items on this last list, I will be satisfied with life for another year. I say that because I plan 2013 to be busier than ever in the writing department, and I’m going to need all the energy I can get to deal with it.

There you have my obligatory lists for this year. I hope you have a satisfying time doing your own lists, whatever they contain. Let me know if you’re ready to either celebrate or need commiseration. I can accommodate either situation and will do so happily.

A bientot,

Claudsy


3 Comments on Listing Year’s Winners, last added: 12/19/2011
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11. The Great Montana Trip of 2009 - Sunday Part II

After driving around for a while, we went back through White Sulphur Springs, where we decided to eat some lunch. We stopped at a spectacular little deli. The Corner Stone Deli, is the kind of sandwich shoppe that every town in the US should have. Nicely decorated in a modern looking country theme, with older waitresses that call you honey, rather than having a list of sandwiches to choose from,

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12. The Great Montana Trip of 2009 - Friday

We woke bright and early the next morning, after sleeping quite well in the back of Strontium. Since our last road trip, where we fought with a leak-a-licious air mattress, we decided to go basic, cheap and old-school. We went to the thrift store, bought a twin mattress in decent shape for $25, shoved a few pillows into the gaps around the doors and wheel wells, tossed our full-size pillow top

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13. The Book Review Club - Shift

Shift
Jennifer Bradbury
May 2008
Atheneum
ISBN: 978-1-4169-4732-5
Retail: $16.99

Jen and I spoke together on a panel at NCTE, and I got her book then. I've been meaning to read it ever since. I'm so glad I finally did.

Shift
is the story of two 18 year-old high school graduates, Win and Chris, who bicycle across America the summer before college starts. It's a journey of self discovery, a YA coming of age story about how the journey is the goal, where you end up may not be where you were headed.

The story is told in retrospective. Chapters alternate deftly between reflection and present day events. Win disappears on the trip shortly before the two reach the West Coast. When he doesn't show up to start college at Dartmouth, his wealthy and influential father begins a search for him. He sends his FBI buddy to Chris at Georgia Tech to start the search, ultimately forcing Chris to find his friend before Win's father ruins Chris' life.

Author, Jen Bradbury, took a similar trip with her husband after they were married, a two month trek across America on a bike. Her experiences give this story an organic, I've-been-there feel. It makes me want to pull my mountain bike out of the garage and give it a go. It also reminds me a little of Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance and the idea that nature, landscape, the world around us can only truly be experienced if you put yourself in the middle of it,not watch it pass by through a window.

This is a great summer read. It'll have you longing for open spaces, the taste of a hearty meal after a day of grueling exercise, the welcome softness of the cool earth against your back and the glory of the wide open spaces, creeks, rivers and plains that beckon us to experience them firsthand. If ever there was a road trip book, this is it! Sign me up.

For more great reviews and must reads, head over to Book Review Club central, Barrie Summy's site. There are some real temptations waiting there that even the most reluctant reader won't be able to pass up.

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14. Local Stories


I visited my first school of 2008 yesterday. For my first school of the year, I always try to visit someplace local, in this case a K-8 school in a small logging town near where I live. The school was a delightful experience. The librarian had prepared the kids well and they asked wonderful questions after each presentation. The visit, though, also reminded me of a lesson I’ve learned rather late in my career—the value of local stories.

For most of my writing life, I’ve written about global and exotic topics, topics such as tropical rain forests, the problem of invasive species, animal adaptations, and more recently, famous historical figures. A few years ago, however, I landed the contract to write B is for Big Sky Country: A Montana Alphabet, my state’s entry in Sleeping Bear Press’s fifty-state series of alphabet books. My entry for the letter ‘S’ in that book led to a second book, Shep—Our Most Loyal Dog.



Shep is a true story of a working sheep dog that lived outside the town of Fort Benton, Montana in the 1930s. At one point, his master fell ill and died, and Shep watched as they loaded the coffin onto a train and shipped it back east for burial. For the next five and a half years, Shep met every passenger train that came into the Fort Benton station, waiting for his master to return. Along the way, Shep made new friends and became famous through newspaper and magazine articles published all around the world.

I felt very fortunate to have discovered Shep’s story—and that no one else had written a children’s picture book about him. What I didn’t realize with both B is for Big Sky Country and Shep, however, is what they would do for my career. Even with its local focus, B is for Big Sky Country has become my third bestselling book out of the fifty or so I’ve had published. Shep is off to a slightly slower start, except here in Montana, where it is by far my most popular title.

But the benefits of these local books are not limited to book sales. Their popularity immediately multiplied the number of school visits I get in and around Montana. Shep is up for the state’s readers choice award this year. Perhaps most importantly, I feel like I’ve made a contribution to the awareness and knowledge kids have about their state and its history and culture. Everywhere I go, the books stimulate lively conversations about peoples’ own histories and interests, and I like to think the books have been a catalyst for bringing people together in the state, even in small ways.

All of this points to a valuable lesson: don’t ignore local and regional topics in your writing. Even if the stories are published by smaller presses, a writer can reap significant benefits from them, both professionally and personally. I know I’ve got my ears and eyes wide open, looking for the next Montana story that heads my way.

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15. Hattie Big Sky


Hattie Big Sky
Author:
Kirby Larson (website)
Publisher:
Delacorte Books for Young Readers (website)
ISBN-10: 0385733135
ISBN-13: 978-0385733137

Hattie Big Sky is set in the year 1918, an interesting time in our history. WWI (known as the Great War or the War to End All Wars) is soon to be ending, Woodrow Wilson has outlined his 14 points of peace, the influenza pandemic was widespread (read more here) and anti-German sentiment is rampant in the US.

Hattie is 16, orphaned and living with her aunt and uncle as a charity case in Iowa, the last in a series of relatives she’s been shuttled back and forth to. While her uncle is kind to her, her aunt is not and makes Hattie’s life pretty miserable. In spite of her hardships, Hattie’s spirit and kindness cannot be squelched and she works hard to make her life bearable. Just in the nick of time, an unexpected inheritance of a homestead from an unknown uncle sends Hattie off to the wilds of Montana to work her dead uncle’s claim. She looks forward to her newfound freedom and a life of adventure as a homesteader.

Hattie is soon to find out that life as a homesteader isn’t such a grand adventure. She arrives in blistering cold to find out that she has less than a year to cultivate her claim with acres of flax, build a staggering amount of fence and somehow manage to survive the harsh winter. The kindness of her German neighbors, the Mullers make life bearable and in at least one instance saves her life.

Hattie’s dear friend from school, Charlie (I think she really loves him) is away at war in France and Hattie’s spirited and lively letters to him as well as her articles for the Iowa newspaper she comes to write for give a wonderful insight to her brave and upbeat personality as well as a window to the hardships she faces.

I found Hattie Big Sky to be completely wonderful. It’s a fresh, funny, insightful and exciting. One of the things I really loved about the book is just how kind Hattie is, how big-hearted, honest and firm in her convictions. She refuses to let the anti-German sentiment keep her away from the Mullers, she stands up to the people in town even though she is desperately lonely and looking to make a place for herself, a home, a family. In spite of the sure knowledge that she will stand alone, she takes that stand and refuses to give up her friendship with them. That is courage, fine and true. That alone would make Hattie Big Sky a great book but there is more, much more and I highly recommend it.

For a taste of Hattie Big Sky, here’s an excerpt courtesy of Random House.

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.


Excerpted from Hattie Big Sky byKirby Larson Copyright © 2006 by Kirby Larson. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

0 Comments on Hattie Big Sky as of 3/13/2007 10:46:00 PM
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16. I am not saying this is true, I am only saying you should read it

If anyone with more of an understanding of the Montana ILL system would like to comment on this very odd post about a small library, the PATRIOT Act and an alleged “watch list” I would appreciate it.

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4 Comments on I am not saying this is true, I am only saying you should read it, last added: 2/5/2007
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