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The Year Of Miss Agnes Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-Teaching the children in an Athabascan village in a one-room schoolhouse on the Alaskan frontier in 1948 is not every educator's dream. Then one day, tall, skinny Agnes Sutterfield arrives and life is never the same for the community. Frederika (Fred), the 10-year-old narrator, discovers that unlike previous teachers, Miss Agnes doesn't mind the smell of fish that the children bring for lunch each day. She also stokes the fire to warm the schoolhouse before the students' arrival each morning, wears pants, and speaks with a strange accent. Miss Agnes immediately packs away the old textbooks, hangs up the children's brightly colored artwork, plays opera music, and reads them Robin Hood and Greek myths. She teaches them about their land and their culture, tutors both students and parents in her cabin in the evening, and even learns sign language along with her students so that Fred's deaf sister can attend school. Hill has created more than just an appealing cast of characters; she introduces readers to a whole community and makes a long-ago and faraway place seem real and very much alive. This is an inspirational story about Alaska, the old and new ways, a very special teacher, and the influence that she has over everyone she meets. A wonderful read-aloud to start off the school year.
Kit Vaughan, Midlothian Middle School, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. From the author of Winter Camp (1993) comes another moving novel about Athabascan life. But instead of a wilderness survival tale, this story is an uplifting portrait of a dedicated teacher, set mostly in a cozy village classroom in 1948. Fred, a ten-year-old girl, describes the year Miss Agnes takes over the one-room school. Unlike the school's other teachers, none of whom have lasted, Miss Agnes encourages the children to explore art, literature, and their own potential. She also teaches basic subjects in relevant ways and shows sensitivity to the rhythms of village life and to each child. The students are devastated when it's time for Miss Agnes to leave, but the story ends with a happy surprise. Readers longing for action may resist the simple, subdued story. But Fred's plain, direct voice, sprinkled with regionalisms, will connect readers with the well-integrated cultural particulars, the poignant scenes of home life, and the joy Fred feels learning in the snug classroom, the snow falling outside. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689829337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689829338
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kirkpatrick Hill spent her first six years at a mining camp outside Fairbanks, Alaska, which was a lot like the mine in Bo at Ballard Creek. She graduated from Syracuse University and taught for the next 30 years, mostly in the Alaska bush which is the setting for Toughboy and Sister, Winter Camp, Minuk, Dancing at the Odinochka The Year of Miss Agnes, and Miss Agnes and the Ginger Tom. She is the mother of six children, grandmother of nine, and great-grandmother of two. She lives in Fairbanks, and spends as much time as possible at the family home in Ruby, on the Yukon River.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In 1948, Fred (short for Frederika) and the other children of the Athabascan village on the Koyukuk River wait for the arrival of their new school teacher. They've had many teachers over the years, in their little one room schoolhouse, but none lasted very long. Life was just too hard. Right from the start Miss Agnes Sutterfield is different. She throws out all the old textbooks and puts up maps and timelines and pictures of the world. She plays opera records and reads Robin Hood and Greek mythology to her students. She teaches them creative writing and talks to them about growing up and becoming doctors or scientists. Miss Agnes even insists that Fred's deaf sister Bokko come to school for the first time and orders books about signing and soon the entire class has learned to signed. But her most important and lasting gift to the village, is the love of learning. Just as everything seems so good, the school year comes to an end and Miss Agnes tells the class that she's homesick and going back to England..... Kirkpatrick Hill has crafted a gentle story, full of great characters and vivid scenes, that will draw youngsters in and transport them back to a very different time and culture in the Alaskan "bush". Miss Agnes came to this closed off village and its "old ways" and opened up her students lives to the great wide world, full of many possibilities. This is a wonderful story that's perfect for kids 9-12, and told with great insight, wisdom and humor.
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By Naomi on January 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Year of Miss Agnes is a heartwarming tale of children in an Alaskan Village named Koyukuk. Fred (short for Fredrika) tells of the trouble her village has in keeping teachers in their small school. Year after year, the teachers leave for one reason or another, which the children believe is some fault of their own. Until the year Miss Agnes arrives and teaches the children in a new and interesting way. Everyone, children and adults included learn valuable lessons from Miss Agnes. The question is, will she stay longer than the others?
This book is written by Kirkpatrick Hill, an author who is a school teacher in the Alaskan "bush". She chooses appropriate vocabulary related to the life they live. She highlights the differences in their culture through the eyes of a child. Most children will be amazed at the responsibilities the children in this book embrace. I think this book would be wonderful for parent and child or teacher and child to read together and discuss. The language is simple, and the Indian words are described in context. Overall, an excellent book to read, discuss and enjoy. I can't wait to read another of Kirkpatrick Hill's books.
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Format: Paperback
As the winner of the Once Upon a World book award, this book was of particular interest to me for its deaf minor character. A sweet story of the teacher who comes to an Inuit village and breaks the mold of teachers in its past, this gentle story would be a good one for an early chapter book reader. The children of the story relate in realistic ways, and bring a diffferent kind of world, one with similarities in people, but differences in environment and a bit of culture. Agnes' response to the deaf girl who had been routinely ignored by previous teachers is appreciated. Its focus on how enjoyable learning can be is a good notion to remind a young reader. Definitely not a dazzler, this one is gently warming and pleasant. I would recommend it.
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A Kid's Review on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Best Year Ever
Kirkpatrick Hill 2000
Frederika thinks that this new teacher of hers is going to fail. But it happens that Miss Agnes proves them wrong. This story takes place in Alaska and it is a good book to read when it is cold outside like it is in Alaska. One interesting part I really liked was when Miss Agnes gave her class all new working supplies like pencils, pens, color pencils, markers, crayons, and colored paper and more. They thought she wouldn't last long either because there always was a bad smell of fish in Alaska but she said, "Well, I can't smell anything. I have sinus trouble." I would think people who just like sit down by the fire, have a cup of hot chocolate, and read to a younger one would like this book. I would give this book a 4 1/2 stars out of 5 if I had to choose, but it is right on the line for a 5 star book. I just want you to know this is the best book ever in my opinion!
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Format: Hardcover
Miss Agnes is a delightful combination of Lucy Maude Montgomery's Miss Stacy and real-life teacher Sylvia Ashton-Warner. She challenges her students to be the best they can be in whatever life they choose for themselves; and to consider looking beyond their own experiences when making life choices. While Hill directs this message towards young people in rural areas, it is a pertinent moral for children in any geographical region.
I did not have the sense that Hill condemed or slighted "normal" teaching, however that may be defined. Rather she wrote a description of a teacher who took the students as they came and met their individual needs. While Miss Agnes sets aside Dick and Jane, she does share a selection of "great" works with the children. Miss Agnes acknowledges that there are many "right" ways of communicating. The trick is to know when colloquialism is acceptable and when it might be more appropriate to use formal language.
Hill writes this book in the voice of a 10-year-old girl. In keeping with this voice, some aspects of the culture are explained while others are mentioned without explanation. This is an effective device. It permits the reader to understand the story at hand. While it might be argued that the book could contain more factual information, this would slow down the action of the story and dissuade some readers.
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