If Laura Ingalls Wilder had lived in Alaska, she might have written this novel.
Like young Laura, the improbably named Terpsichore Johnson relocates with her family from their Wisconsin home—but not to the prairie. They move to rural Alaska because it’s 1934, and the Depression has hit hard. In those dark days Franklin Roosevelt began a colony there for “pioneers” who were willing to try to make a go of the inhospitable wilderness; the plot of this heartwarming novel is based on that little-known historical project. “Trip” is inspired by and frequently invokes the Little House books as she staunchly attempts to find her place in her new home and among new friends. And is she ever a whiz at growing pumpkins and cooking. The former talent brings about a wonderfully satisfying ending. Yet the author doesn’t romanticize the hardships these stalwarts faced. Dagg does a fine job evoking a realistic sense of time and place, with a few historical figures adding to the authentic flavor. 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. Kids will also be amazed by 1930s prices.
Cozy, charming, and old fashioned, but in a good way; fine for curling up and reading under the covers—in Alaska or elsewhere. (author’s notes, recipes) (Fiction. 10-14)