I am astonished to discover that I never wrote about Bo at Ballard Creek, one of my favorite books of 2013. That book is about the realistic (and yet fantastic) adventures of Bo, a four-year-old girl, who was adopted as a tiny baby and raised in a mining camp by two best-friend miners, Arvid and Jack, in the 1920s. After reading all about her wonderful town full of people that love her, I was sad to reach the end–particularly as the book ended with her little family (recently increased by the addition of another orphan in need) having to leave Ballard Creek after the mine is played out.
I never expected to see a sequel, but I was thrilled when I found out that Kirkpatrick Hill had continued to chronicle Bo’s adventures in her new mining town: Iditarod Creek. Bo’s new town is very different from Ballard Creek — it’s bigger, uglier, and MUCH louder, and there are almost no other children aside from Bo and her younger brother Graf. She misses the trees and the tundra of Ballard Creek, but most of all she misses all of her friends — the Eskimos that lived in the village along with the miners. (Hill makes it clear in an author’s note that ‘Eskimo’ is the self-preferred name of the particular group of native Alaskans that she’s writing about).
Bo never stays down for long, though, and makes friends with almost all the residents of her new town, young and old, male and female, Athabascan, Finnish, Inuit, Japanese, and white. Throughout the year she has her usual myriad adventures–making hundreds of donuts, catching guppies, going to the miner’s Fourth of July celebration, and even (gasp) learning to read! Bo’s sweetness of spirit is utterly charming, and this book would make a wonderful read-aloud for children too young to read a 200-plus-paged novel on their own, or any child who loved the Little House books. (A caveat for parents, though: the miners do occasionally say ‘Damn’, and in one chapter there is a conversation about hurtful names for people of other races).
This book also ends with Bo and her family on their way to a new living situation–I can only hope that Kirkpatrick Hill continues this delightful series.
Posted by: Sarah