Sweet Home Alaska
February 02, 2016
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.
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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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