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Sweet Home Alaska Hardcover – February 2, 2016
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"Based on real happenings, this engaging novel is filled with charming characters and a very compelling story set in a time and place readers will find fascinating. Author Carole Estby Dagg's excellent research shows as does her talent for creating believable scenarios and dialogue." --San Francisco Book Review
"Little House on the Prairie" fans will appreciate a new frontier in "Sweet Home Alaska"...the novel's real sparkle is its main character, Terpsichore, an 11-year-old go-getter who washes diapers to raise money for a library and grows a giant pumpkin by feeding it milk, just like Almanzo Wilder.--The Seattle Times
"...a work of historical fiction perfectly suited for middle school kids...Plenty of research went into this book, which offers insight into what it was like for impoverished Americans to pull up stakes...and try to carve a community from scratch...It's a sweet story with real-life drama.--Anchorage Daily News
* "The story is full of rich detail about the birth and development of the community...Susan Denaker...gives an expressive full-voiced performance, bringing out the humor and drama of the story. This is Dagg's second book, and she has created a resourceful, spirited girl in Trip."
--Sound Commentary on the Listening Library recording
“If Laura Ingalls Wilder had lived in Alaska, she might have written this novel. . . . Heartwarming. . . . A wonderfully satisfying ending. . . . Doesn’t romanticize the hardships these stalwarts faced. Dagg does a fine job evoking a realistic sense of time and place. . . . Trip’s a beautifully realized heroine, and readers will be heartened by her and her friends’ efforts to develop a sense of communal spirit in their new, pristine colony. . . . Cozy, charming, and old fashioned, but in a good way; fine for curling up and reading under the covers—in Alaska or elsewhere.”—Kirkus Reviews
“With conscious homage to Wilder’s Little House books, Dagg evokes the same pioneering spirit in a Depression-era setting, lavishing attention on details about the homesteaders’ food and housing and indicating to readers how the technology available to Terpsichore’s family differs from Laura Ingalls’s time and from the modern era. Like Wilder, Dagg gives her story a gently episodic shape, moving lightly among school events and holidays, but the plot touches frequently enough on the book’s overarching elements to keep the momentum humming.”—The Horn Book
“Eleven-year-old Terpsichore Johnson is vivacious, inventive, resourceful, and determined to help her family thrive in their new Alaskan home. . . . Authentic references to the 1930s abound. . . . Fact and fiction and real and imagined personalities and events are seamlessly woven into this quaint, energetic, and engaging story. Short, lively chapters; dynamic characters; family struggles and unity; and well-blended Depression-era facts will capture and inform middle grade readers.”—School Library Journal
“Dagg delivers another engrossing historical novel in a story exploring family bonds, the pioneer spirit, cooperation, and the meaning of home. . . . The story of the family’s adjustment to frontier life is real and moving, and the obstacles are significant. . . . Dagg credibly shows Terpsichore’s burgeoning maturity. . . . A memorable tale of physical and emotional survival.”—Publishers Weekly
"Palmer’s history serves as an intriguing backdrop for an episodic tale of a girl for whom the term 'plucky' was invented. . . . Terpsichore is a cozy fictional friend in the tradition of Anne Shirley or, yes, Laura Ingalls."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Join the adventure of wilderness, hardship, and struggle to leave life as you know it behind and start anew. . . . Provides a unique perspective. . . . This is a fascinating look at the struggles families encountered during the Great Depression and could provide many discussions that may lead to a deeper understanding of the time period and the growth of our country based on the decisions of the times.”—School Library Connection
About the Author
Carole Estby Dagg (www.caroleestbydagg.com) also wrote the middle-grade historical novel The Year We Were Famous. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and has lived in Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia. She has degrees in sociology, library science, and accounting. Her real-life adventures include tiptoeing through King Tut’s tomb, sand boarding the dunes of western Australia, riding a camel among the Great Pyramids, paddling with Manta rays in Moorea, and smelling the penguins in the Falkland Islands. She is married with two children, two grandchildren, a husband, and a bossy cat who supervises her work. She splits her writing time between her study in Everett, Washington, and a converted woodshed on San Juan Island.
Top customer reviews
Pros: With a nod to Terpsichore’s favorite books, Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy (Little House on the Prairie is published during the family’s first year in Alaska), this story tells of twentieth-century pioneers working together to build a new community and a more prosperous life for their families. Terpsichore is a likeable character, and readers will be rooting for her as she pours her heart into helping her friends and family.
Cons: It took at least half the book for the mother to become even a tiny bit likeable.
This would pair well with Gayle Rosengren's WHAT THE MOON SAID, another depression era story with a Wisconsin setting but an entirely different story arc. A discussion of both stories, main characters, and circumstances would open doors to deep understanding of the economic and political realities of America in the 1930s.