Sunday, December 27, 2015

Winter Reading Sweet Home Alaska


Terpsichore, or "Trip," lives with her family in Wisconsin in 1934. Her father had been a bookkeeper at the lumber mill before the mill closed, and the family had to survive on what her mother earned giving piano lessons and what they could grow in their garden. Trip has been doing all the cooking while her mother was busy with the lessons and taking care of baby Matthew and the twins, Cally and Polly. The cooking is actually a challenge, since she has only had pumpkin to work with lately. When the family moves to Alaska as part of a New Deal program, Trip carefully packs seeds from their garden to take with her. The family is in for culture shock as they arrive in a tent city that doesn't even have enough tents to go around, and we won't discuss the outhouse situation (although it is a two-seater). Plagued with equipment shortages and outbreaks of measles and other diseases, the new colonists are feeling very frustrated. But despite the hardships, Trip and her new friends Gloria and Mendel manage to organize a lending library, and begin learning how to survive the Alaskan wilderness.

Many readers have probably never heard of this program, although it is a part of American history. The story weaves in many other touches from the time period - the Fireside Chats, Little Orphan Annie, Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Shirley Temple, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Trip is especially fond of Laura's stories and even receives a copy of Little House on the Prairie for Christmas. She consults Farmer Boy for tips on growing a prize-winning pumpkin when she decides to enter a contest at the fair. Even readers who are not usually attracted to historical fiction will find Trip's experiences fascinating to read, and the personalities of her family and friends will draw you in, too. 

This would make an excellent novel study to accompany a unit on the 1930s, or simply a great read for anyone who enjoys adventure, humor, and strong female characters. I especially enjoyed the part about establishing a library (personal bias, I know). Recommended for middle grades and up.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

1 comment:

  1. I have not heard of this one, but it sounds really great. I love HF and am adding this one to my list. Thanks for sharing!