This sequel to Bo at Ballard Creek (2013) continues the adventures of the 5-year-old gamine and her “two papas,” Alaskan gold miners in the late 1920s.
Bo’s outsized dads, who adopted her in infancy, are loving and hardworking. The conclusion of the first novel saw the family welcoming another child and relocating. In their new town they meet generous, kindly (with one exception) neighbors of various ethnicities. The children explore, make new friends and begin home-schooling. As before, the pacing is leisurely, and much is conveyed through clear exposition that evokes time and place well. Mild expletives and some mentions of smoking and drinking fill in a slightly rough-and-tumble background appropriate to the setting, and some darker elements encroach in the form of a character later revealed to be the victim of heartbreaking abuse. Then, Bo’s friend says the N-word, eliciting an adult’s firm rebuke. (The author’s note explains that at the time, the word was nonchalantly used.) Main characters are well-drawn, but some are stock—the jolly, Yiddish-speaking shopkeeper and the Japanese brothers with broken English feel tired.
Overall, another warm and charming outing, and the family's move to a different town and larger, permanent home is a satisfying ending—though Bo’s ever changing family dynamic may summon another sequel. (Historical fiction. 8-12)