Sweet Home Alaska

Sweet Home Alaska
Age Range
10+
Release Date
February 02, 2016
ISBN
978-0399172038
Buy This Book
      
This exciting pioneering story, based on actual events, introduces readers to a fascinating chapter in American history, when FDR set up a New Deal colony in Alaska to give loans and land to families struggling during the Great Depression. Trip can’t wait to follow in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s footsteps . . . now she just has to convince her mom. It’s 1934, and times are tough for their family. To make a fresh start, Trip’s father signs up for President Roosevelt’s Palmer Colony project, uprooting them from Wisconsin to become pioneers in Alaska. Their new home is a bit of a shock—it’s a town still under construction in the middle of the wilderness, where the residents live in tents and share a community outhouse. But Trip’s not about to let first impressions get in the way of this grand adventure. Tackling its many unique challenges with her can-do attitude, she starts making things happen to make Alaska seem more like home. Soon, she and her family are able to start settling in and enjoying their new surroundings—everyone except her mother, that is. So, in order to stay, Trip hatches a plan to convince her that it’s a wonderful—and civilized—place to live . . . a plan that’s going to take all the love, energy, and Farmer Boy expertise Trip can muster.

Editor review

1 review
Little House on the Tundra
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
In the grip of the Great Depression, Terpsichore's family is barely holding on in their small Wisconsin town. Her father has lost his job as a bookkeeper, and the family is quickly running out of food, relying on their garden and Terpsichore's skill in the kitchen. When her father finds out about FDR's plan to send families on relief to set up a settlement in Alaska, he is very excited and fills out the application. Her mother, however, is less than thrilled about moving out to the wilderness, and it isn't until one of the family's accepted backs out that the Johnsons are accepted. They pack up their household belongings, get on a ship, and set off. One of the first people she meets is Mendel, who is a veritable mine of esoteric information, but whom she finds a tiny bit overbearing and boring. He is a nice change from younger siblings Matthew, Cally, and Polly, so the two become friends after a fashion. When she starts school in her new community, Trip (whose hated nickname follows her) meets Gloria, who is a good substitute for her friend Eileen. The three classmates decide that what Palmer, their new community, needs is a library. Trip does a ton of work, asking her grandmother for books, getting supplies from Demco, and raising money for the library by washing diapers for a neighbor! Gloria and Mendel also turn their hands to fundraising, and before long the Palmer Library Action Committee has a selection of books as well as a couple of magazines which they store in the pastor's tent. After a particularly bad storm, the books are moved to the school building for safe keeping, and the children's contribution isn't recognized, causing some confusion and hard feelings. The situation is worked out, and Trip is able to turn her hand to pumpkin growing just in time for a community festival. Will her family be able to stay on in the new frontier, or will they be returning to the civilized world of Wisconsin?
Good Points
I love historical novels where I learn things! I had no idea that Roosevelt had sent people to Alaska, along with a huge number of CCC workers who built homes, schools, and a hospital. Of course, there was no electricity at first, so Trip's mother has to leave her electric stove and isn't happy about it! Gloria isn't happy about the lack of movie magazines, although movies occasionally make it to the community.

The details of daily life, both in Wisconsin and in Alaska, are nicely drawn. Trip's collection of books is particularly interesting, as is her processing of them with circulation cards and spine labels, and her excitement about getting a copy of the brand new Little House on the Prairie is very fun. There is a note in the back about the lack of indigenous Alaskan people-- apparently, sources from the time don't mention anything about them, and the author has not interpolated any communication between the two groups.

Trip is an engaging character, and her enthusiasm for bringing her love for books to her neighbors is admirable. Sweet Home Alaska is a great addition to pioneering books like Larson's Hattie Big Sky, Hill's Bo of Iditarod Creek, or the Little House books that Trip loves.
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