Happy MMGM, guys!
Our MG this week is Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg. It's a fantastic historic MG about a girl and her family who sets out for life in Alaska!
MMGM is a feature hosted by the fabulous Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Expected publication: February 2nd 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Format read: ARC via publisher
It’s 1934, and times are tough for Trip’s family after the mill in their small Wisconsin town closes, leaving her father unemployed. Determined to provide for his family, he moves them all to Alaska to become pioneers as part of President Roosevelt’s Palmer Colony project.
Discouraged at first with the lack of amenities—most of the pioneers are living in tents due to the lack of proper building supplies, and waiting in line at the community outhouse is a regular occurrence—Trip and her family soon start settling in. Everyone except her mom, that is, who balks at the lack of civilization. But Trip, who feels like she’s following in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s footsteps, loves her new home. She helps her family build a barn and house on their own plot of land and raise food to last through the winter, and she and her friends start a library.
Then she hatches the biggest plan of all—raising enough money to buy a piano, to convince her musical mother that Alaska is a wonderful—and cultured—home after all. With her sights set on the cash prize at the upcoming Palmer Colony Fair, Trip is determined to grow the largest pumpkin possible—using all the love, energy, and Farmer Boy expertise she can muster.
Debut author Carole Eastby Dagg introduces us Trip, a young girl who is living through hard times with her family. Her father has lost his job at the mill, and their small Wisconsin town is slowly breaking apart, as other mill families have left to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
So when Trip's father manages to get the family into President Roosevelt's Palmer Colony Project, Trip is prepared for the adventure of a lifetime. Life definitely isn't easy in Alaska, but it certainly has a lot to offer for a hardworking and adventurous young girl...
Sweet Home Alaska is definitely a throwback to classic middle grade tales like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Dagg sets up Trip's journey to the colony with just the right amount of historic fact and fiction, showing us just why the move is the right decision for Trip and her family.
Though life is challenging and full of unexpected obstacles when they begin to settle down in Alaska - Trip's mother has several pointed but absolutely valid complaints - Dagg has an especial knack for making each obstacle feel like a wanted learning opportunity.
From setting up a library, to competing with friendly enemies who are also selling popcorn during weekly movie nights, Trip is coming of age in unique circumstances, and Dagg helps us see how the environment is unique, but also perfectly suited for someone with Trip's tenacity and spirit.
Dagg is especially adept at emphasizing the value of the small things in life, and how it's teamwork and the ability to see past previous differences, which help brings these ventures into reality. After reading about Trip's joy in no longer living in a tent during the bitter cold of winter, or Trip's many efforts in growing the perfect vegetables, readers will likely appreciate their lives more.
With a sprinkling of historic figures added in, and a nice subplot about Trip's mother working for her family's future in the colony, and this is a book that will resound with readers of all ages.
Bottom line: Highly recommend for fans of Little House on the Prairie and readers who enjoy classic tales like By the Great Horn Spoon!