Sweet Home Alaska
Juvenile historical fiction
Back in the 1930s President Roosevelt came up with a number of
innovative programs to help people in dire financial straits due to
the great depression. One of the lesser known ones, the Palmer
Colony, has been largely forgotten. Lucky for readers, when Carole
Estby Dagg's son bought a home in Palmer, Alaska, she learned about it
and shared her discovery with us in her spirited Sweet Home Alaska.
Terpsichore's father has lost his job as a mill bookkeeper.
Even though the family has planted vegetables in every bit of their
yard they never have enough to eat. One night at supper he announces
a government resettlement project. Each family moving to Palmer,
Alaska will receive forty acres of land and a $3,000 loan to start a
That idea goes over like a lead balloon. Terpsichore's mom says
they don't have to do something quite so drastic. They can apply for
relief or move in with her mother. Her dad rejects both suggestions.
It's his job to provide for his family. Ultimately he prevails.
The reality of Alaska is harsh. Families must live in tents
while their homes are being built. Terpsichore's family wakes one day
to find snow weighing down their tent. Cots must be netted to keep
out large, blood thirsty Mosquitos. A hospital is lacking. Young
children die in a measles epidemic.
Terpsichore's mother becomes more and more eager to return to
civilization and her mother. She's only agreed to stay until the
first real harvest. Then she has the power to insist that the family
return to Wisconsin.
Terpsichore, however, has really taken to Alaska. She's started
a library with donated books from many states. She's discovered the
potential for growing giant vegetables provided by the long summer
days. How can she persuade her mom that Palmer is where they really
Terpsichore's pumpkin oatmeal cookies (recipe included) are the
cat's pajamas--especially with pecans and golden raisins. I'm not
exactly eager to try to whip up some jellied moose nose (recipe also
What a great summer read aloud for a family on a camping trip!
On a personal note, I read that Portland Press Herald was looking for
regular opinion writers. I sent in the required piece. I learned
that wasn't what they were looking for. I said, well I'm not good
enough for Portland. My editor said Portland doesn't know what
A great big shout out goes out to my Bangor Daily news readers who
seem plenty happy with what I dish out.
Sent from my iPod