Five great books on Alaska
Alaska librarian Elizabeth Moreau, who also served on this year’s Newberry Award panel, has assembled a list of her favorite Alaska-inspired children’s books.
Here’s what she came up with:
POLAR BEAR NIGHT
By Lauren Thompson and Stephen Savage
This is not specifically Alaska, but it is about a little polar bear who wakes up in the arctic night and he wanders around. He sees the walrus, and the sea otters and sort of all of the Alaskan animals.
It has just come out on board book, and it’s a very sweet bedtime story that is really going to work for very, very small toddlers up to preschoolers and Kindergartners. While not necessarily Alaskana, it’s has all of our Alaska animal friends.
I’ve read this to kids in three different states, and they’ve connected to it in every state because there’s something universal about when you can’t sleep and wandering around your home.
By Betty Huffmon and Teri Sloat
Teri Sloat, while she lives in Washington now, spent several years teaching in the Bush with her husband in rural villages. And this is a wonderful, wonderful story that she heard and retold from a Yup’ik Eskimo storyteller, Betty Huffmon, as a traditional Yup’ik tale of a little girl who goes berry hunting.
It’s a lot of fun and it’s a very joyous story.
I love (Sloat’s) artwork. It’s very full of life and color. … It’s a traditional Yupik tale, but there is still that (universal) element of a little girl and her grandmother and doing things together.
MAMA, DO YOU LOVE ME?
By Barbara M. Joosse and Barbara Lavellee
Two great Barbaras … This is one I have personally given as baby shower gifts.
Barbara Lavellee lives in Alaska and Barbara Joosse lives in Wisconsin, but this is sort of the very traditional, once again the universal (question), “do you love me?” But then the answers are very Alaskan: “I love you more than the raven loves his treasure. More than the dog loves his tail. More than the whale loves his spout.”
Before I came to Alaska, this is one I was familiar with … Barbara Lavallee is one of our most prolific Alaska children’s artists.
MY NAME IS NOT EASY
By Debbie Dahl Edwardson
Speaking of national recognition, this was a National Book Award finalist last year.
This is Debbie Dahl Edwardson, who is an Alaskan, and this is based off what actually happened to her father-in-law, which is that he was removed from his home and taken to a boarding school where he was not allowed to speak Inupiaq.
He is having his culture systematically stripped away from him. And then there sort of becomes this other element where the government is doing some TB vaccination testing on the students. And this is very much what actually happened to Alaska Natives in the 50s, that they were removed from their homes and sent to boarding schools.
My future father-in-law tells stories of basically the same thing. Being hit with a ruler if he spoke in Yup’ik.
THE IMPOSSIBLE RESCUE
By Martin W. Sandler
This is brand new this year. I actually got a copy of it for my Newbery adventure.
(It’s) a true story that happened in 1897 where eight whaling vessels were stuck in the ice off of Point Barrow. President McKinley ordered these three men to drive a herd of reindeer across Alaska to feed the men who would otherwise have starved to death on the whaling vessels.
One of the people who was on the (trip) had just discovered this new thing that was called photography. … There’s tons of photos from the period.
It’s another probably fifth- to seventh-grade book. I had to bring in one non-fiction book.
There are so many Alaska adventure stories that are completely true, and I think we tend to only focus on Balto and the Iditarod. Kids have heard that story. If you grew up in Alaska, you know that story, but this is another very cool, true adventure that happened in Alaska.
What are your favorite Alaska-themed kids’ books? Tell us about them in the comments.
Reported by KYLE HOPKINS of the Anchorage Daily News. Contact Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter updates: twitter.com/adn_kylehopkins. (MCT)