“If it weren’t for the Rose girls, what would Alaska be?”
According to this original tall tale, Alaska would be missing many geographic and topographic features if it weren’t for the feats of Sitka and Prickly Rose. “Legend says the Rose girls / towered ten feet tall. / Truth is, Sitka did so; / Prickly not at all.” When Sitka mushes toward Nome, Prickly, as her name suggests, feels left out and declares she won’t be stuck at home. She jumps aboard two orcas and creates a tsunami when she falls off; she rides a “glacier bear”; she yanks the moon and forms tides; she stomps and causes both an earthquake and a volcanic eruption. Just when Prickly’s sour luck runs out, Sitka bursts from the northern lights driving a team of wolverines, and sisterly love erupts. This story follows Gill’s previous picture book, Sitka Rose, illustrated by Shannon Cartwright (2005), checking off expected Alaska attractions (Denali, the Yukon River) and folding in Alaska slang (williwaws, skookum). The rhyming text tends to hamper the flow of the tale, but the wild and woolly story is animated with boisterous illustrations that exaggerate the hijinks. A map in the backmatter pinpoints the locations of the episodes.
Though mostly of regional interest, this could easily be paired with other female tall tales, such as Anne Isaacs and Paul Zelinsky’s Swamp Angel (1994), Jerdine Nolen and Kadir Nelson’s Thunder Rose (2003) and Lynne Bertrand and Kevin Hawkes’ Granite Baby (2005). (Picture book. 5-9)