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The Kids from Nowhere Paperback – October 15, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

From the world-award-winning writer comes the gripping, true story of a group of Alaskan Eskimo students who, despite nearly impossible odds, achieve one of the most stunning educational feats in the history of American education.
In 1982, George Guthridge brought his wife and two young daughters to Gambell, Alaska, a small village on the edge of the remote blizzard-swept St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, one of the harshest and most remote places in Alaska. Guthridge was there to teach at a Siberian-Yupik school -- a school so troubled it was under threat of closure.
For its own reasons, the school district enters the students into one of the most difficult academic competitions in the nation. The school has no computers and very few books. The students lack world knowledge and speak English as a second language. Still, George resolves to coach them to a state championship. But the students have an even greater goal of their own.
Hilarious, disturbing, densely atmospheric -- and packed with surprises at every turn -- The Kids from Nowhere is a powerful, poignant story that will make you want to cry and cheer at the same time. Similar to an Alaskan Stand and Deliver, this is an inspiring story of triumph over adversity that provides a fascinating view of a remote Alaska Native village.

From the Publisher


"This is a delightful visit to a small island in the Bering Sea without having to travel. The landscapes and seascapes are beautifully painted by an outsider, a non-Eskimo teacher, who learns to cherish and respect the culture of his students and the small village in which they live. It is a heart-wrenching story of a group of seemingly uneducable students who, with the coaching of their teacher, not only learn to love learning, but end up champions in a national competition."
--Jean Auel, author of Clan of the Cave Bear

"Straightforwardly, The Kids from Nowhere is a heart-lifting epic about the educational triumph of a group of Yupik Eskimo students from tiny, isolated St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. But the story unfolds on several levels at once and is equally revealing about the stunning dedication of their gifted teacher and guide, George Guthridge."
--Barry Lopez, award-winning author of Arctic Dreams

"The Kids from Nowhere is proof that people everywhere can accomplish amazing feats when given educational tools and instruction that fit their way of life and thinking. George Guthridge's poignant book is about hope rekindled in the icy north, and how a teacher learned to move from `teaching' students to `reaching' them. Read this book and discover how young people truly can learn commitment to a cause that, they come to realize, is much, much bigger than they ever initially imagined."
--Greg Mortenson, builder of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and coauthor of New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations One School at a Time

"No kids are more neglected than the kids of our Native Nations. This book is a welcome remedy to that lack of attention. It's inspiring as well as being well-written, the kind of tale that every teacher and every coach should respond to. I can't recommend it highly enough."
--Joseph Bruchac, Abenaki writer and storyteller, author of Jim Thorpe: Original All-American

"Beautifully written, The Kids from Nowhere is a victorious account of one teacher's journey with his Eskimo students from the edge of nowhere to the brink of endless promise."
--Janet Berliner, coauthor of Artifact

"Struggle is not unusual in the Arctic, but the struggle for intellectual accomplishment and personal integrity takes a new twist in this compelling and engaging narrative. . . .Guthridge's writing is immaculate and heartfelt as he skillfully explores village life, educational practice, and the desire to succeed."
--James Ruppert Ph.D., coeditor of Our Voices: Native Stories of Alaska and the Yukon

"We often talk about problems facing education. Guthridge offers solid solutions."
--Profs. John Creed and Susan Andrews, editors of Authentic Alaska: Voices of its Native Authors

"What a remarkable accomplishment!"
--Grace Corrigan (mother of Christa McAuliffe)


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882406515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882406510
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have published over 70 short stories and five novels, and have been a finalist for the Hugo Award and twice for the Nebula Award, for science fiction and fantasy. In 1998 my coauthor, Janet Berliner, and I won the Bram Stoker Award for the year's best horror novel.

I am probably best known for having coached ten students from the Siberian-Yupik (Eskimo) village of Gambell, on blizzard-swept St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, to national championships in academics. They became the only Native American team ever to do that -- and they did it twice.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are times when stories about successes in educational advancement are told in a manner that feels more like inspirational magazine material than a book: the achievements of underprivileged young people overcoming potentially insurmountable odds are related in a touching way but hardly register as great writing - content over style.

In the matter of 'THE KIDS FROM NOWHERE: The Story Behind the Arctic Educational Miracle' the author is George Guthridge who not only is a fine educator but he is also a superb novelist. It is this added bonus of a beautifully written novel that just happens to contain a true story that makes this book so fine. Guthridge writes with utter clarity, presents his amazing facts, and yet relates this 'miracle' in a manner that makes every page a literary delight.

In 1982 teachers George and Mary Guthridge and their two young daughters accepted a teaching assignment out of financial desperation - a school in Gambell, Alaska on an isolated St. Lawrence Island between Alaska and Siberia, a school approaching collapse, peopled with Yupik 'Eskimos' known for their defiance of authority and apparent lack of ambition - a job that would pay well despite the formidable prospects. With wise insight and elegantly fluid style, Guthridge relates his time in Gambell, his family's assimilation into a new culture, and his approach to education that turned a 'trapped' class of young students into scholars by involving these inherently very bright students in a process called 'Future Problem Solving Program'.

Guthridge takes the reader to this strange place with his ability to create atmosphere and to define his cast of characters in a way that the True Story aspect of the book is merely one part of a most satisfying novel.
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Format: Paperback
When I first read George Guthridge's book, I couldn't wait to share it with others. I found it greatly motivating, hugely inspiring and totally captivating. Perhaps it was more meaningful to me since I have friends that come from Gambel, but I really think it stems from the outstanding job that was done by George in portraiting the struggle in schools. The deeper meaning isn't written so much about Alaska, but just the struggles children face in general, and how they can be overcome with help from caring and inspired adults, this just happened to be a rural Alaskan setting. I highly recommend this for students, teachers, coaches and parents. I enjoyed it so much I purchased 2 dozen more to give away as gifts to those I thought could really use a lift.
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The Kids from Nowhere is a beautifully written story of triumph. I could not put this book down and continue to think about it. George and his students made me laugh, cry, and cheer, all while learning about the Yupik culture and innovative teaching/motivational strategies. This book has inspired me to be a better person, a better teacher and a better mentor to our youth. A must read for all teachers and anyone that loves a great non-fiction story. In my opinion it towers above many great inspirational teaching stories such as Stand and Deliver and To Sir With Love.
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Format: Paperback
In the 1980s an amazing thing happened. Siberian Yupik kids, who lived on a remote island in the Bering Sea and who spoke English as a second language, won national academic competitions. Their teacher was a writer who took the teaching job in order to support his young family and writing, but the experience turned him into a dedicated teacher as well as award-winning author. The Kids from Nowhere is his story of teaching junior high and high school students in Gambell, Alaska.

George Guthridge went to Gambell to teach in 1982. His students were Siberian Yupiks, who called themselves Eskimos, who got their water from the village's tank, and who missed school to participate in the subsistence activities of their families and community. Located on the northwest corner of St. Lawrence Island, Gambell has a view of nearby Russia on the rare clear day. When he arrived, the Gambell schools had discipline as well as academic problems, and teacher turnover was very high. The school district was considering closing the high school.

Coming from the "outside"--outside of Alaska, Guthridge had much to learn. He learned about Eskimo culture, teaching methods, public school politics, and academic success. His story is also the story of the kids he coached. These kids had the typical Eskimo shyness. Guthridge learned to read the raised eye brow that meant yes, and the lowered brow that meant no. He learned to listen to the silence exchanges among the students--and the discussions in Yupik.

Guthridge was assigned to coach Future Problem Solving at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. Initially, he did not know what Future Problem Solving was. It is a method of solving a problem set in the future, and a program to teach youth problem-solving skills.
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If anyone wants a chairside tour of another culture, this is the book for you. The author takes us to a Yupik (Eskimo) whaling, subsistance community in Gambel, Alaska where he is a teacher. The reader "stays" in Gambel for 3 years while the author and his students participate in day-to-day Yupik life and pursue a national academic championship. Preparing for the championship, the students blend their Yupik culture with the Western culture to understand and solve the problems presented to them in the exams. A true triumph of the spirit written in a gripping story that the reader will not be able to put down until finished.
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