Each month Jen Vincent and I choose a book to discuss together. As we read the book we chat back and forth in a google document. We post the chat here at sharpread. This month our pick is Kirby Larson’s Hattie Big Sky.
COLBY: Jen, I am so excited to talk Hattie Big Sky with you! I am curious to see what you think of one of my all time favorite historical fiction books. The first time I read Hattie Big Sky I immediately looked up a bunch of different things about homesteading in America. I was fascinated by Hattie’s story and I felt like I understood so much more about this time period from reading Kirby Larson’s book.
JEN: I don’t think I know anything about homesteading in America. I didn’t even know homesteading was a verb. I’m trying to think if I have read other books set during this time period and I can only think of Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck…and I’m not sure if they were the same time period or not. It’s amazing how much I learn from historical fiction. I read Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran, it’s adult historical fiction about the French Revolution. I had no idea the French Revolution came after the American Revolution. I remember studying both but I didn’t connect the timeline of which came first and how far apart they were when I was a kid. Then I read the book and it made sense all of a sudden. And I loved how things fit together like a puzzle piece. Reading historical fiction brings history to life for me in such a real way.
COLBY: I think that I am reading Hattie Big Sky differently since this is my third reading. It will be interesting to see how our discussions goes with this being your first reading of the book. Do you feel that you read differently the first, second, and even third times you read a book?
JEN: When I reread books in April, I focused on how I was read differently when I was rereading. Of course, I reread parts of books as I go along, but rereading the whole entire book is a different situation. I noticed most of all that I could linger on the author’s craft when I was rereading because I already knew the story. Right now the romantic, girl in me is so curious about Hattie’s relationship with Charlie. I keep wondering about that and reminding myself how young Hattie is. I have noticed some great description but I am concentrating more on keeping the storyline straight because I haven’t read it before. I definitely read differently when I am rereading.
COLBY: One thing that I love about the book is the letters that Hattie writes Charlie throughout. I think that these letters add a layer to the story that really helps makes this a distinguished book (Do you like that Newbery lingo?). I love how the letters show Hattie’s reflection on what is going on with her life. It’s also fun to see what she chooses to share with Charlie. What do you think the letters add to the story?
JEN: I love the letters! So I just told you how curious I am about her relationship with Charlie…I think that adds a great layer to the story in general. I also love Uncle Holt. I love him. He seems like a really chill guy who is paying attention even when you think he might not be. And he loves to read! I like the letters that go to Charlie and Uncle Holt. I do think the letters add to the story because we get to hear Hattie recount what is happening in a unique way.
I love this Kirby Larson interview.