Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books 

Summary:  Terpsichore Johnson’s father has been out of work for months, and there’s barely enough food to feed her and her three younger siblings.  When President Roosevelt announces a plan for families to get free farms in Palmer, Alaska, Mr. Johnson is ready to sign up.  Terpsichore’s mother is much less certain, but she agrees to try it for fifteen months, through two harvest seasons.  Despite cold winds, outhouses, and having to live in a tent for a few months, Terpsichore loves Alaska.  She starts a public library with her new friends, and sets her sights on growing a pumpkin big enough to win the grand prize at the fall fair.  The fair marks the end of the fifteen-month trial period, though, and Mother is still not convinced that she wants to stay in Alaska.  Terpsichore hatches a crazy plan to buy something she thinks might make up her mother’s mind.  Will her idea work?  304 pages; grades 4-6.

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.  Readers will root for Terpsichore as she pours her heart into helping her friends and family.

Cons:  It took at least half the book for me to find the mother even a tiny bit likeable.

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