Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bo at Ballard Creek” as Want to Read:
Bo at Ballard Creek
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bo at Ballard Creek

(Bo at Ballard Creek #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  840 ratings  ·  210 reviews
It's the 1920s, and Bo was headed for an Alaska orphanage when she won the hearts of two tough gold miners who set out to raise her, enthusiastically helped by all the kind people of the nearby Eskimo village.

Bo learns Eskimo along with English, helps in the cookshack, learns to polka, and rides along with Big Annie and her dog team. There's always some kind of excitement:
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  840 ratings  ·  210 reviews

More filters
Sort order
This little book is just about perfect. It is simple, straight forward and easy to read. Others have compared it to Little House on the Prairie and I can understand that comparison. For many, Little House feels like home. For me, this novel, set in my childhood home of Alaska, feels like home. It is definitely a book for young readers - probably 3rd to 5th grade, as the action is not very fast paced. But that is okay - not very book has to be action packed. It is quiet and sweet and gives kids a ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Yup, as Wendy promised, this was a delightful book written FOR kids instead of AT them. Hill's authorial eye has the ability to focus on the detail in the scene that is most interesting to a kid, and pull it to the forefront, look at it from several angles, and then move on. I love the setting, I love the time period, but most of all, I love the characters. Some of the background characters sort of blend together, but for the most part each quirky individual shines in their own particular way. H ...more
I've never been to Alaska, but this delightful chapter book evoked such a strong sense of place and introduced such interesting characters that I felt as though I'd been there. When I reached the last page, I felt sad to leave the world of 1920s Ballard Creek after the gold rush had died down. The book tells the story of five-year-old Bo, left behind and intended to be dropped off at an orphanage by her mother, one of the good time girls. But two burly mine workers with hearts of gold, Jack and ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very odd little book. It is clearly directed at children, probably in the 8-10 range. The cheerful tone, simple language, anecdotal style, illustrations, and young protagonist all support this. However, reading it as an adult, well . . . this is an accurate summary of what happens in the initial chapters with only the wording changed: A prostitute gets pregnant. She has the baby, states explicitly that she is not going to allow her life to be ruined by a child, and abandons the baby th ...more
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had to slow myself down to read this book. As a young reader, I skipped the Little House series due to (assumed, by me) lack of diversity and antiquated thinking about "settling" the American countryside (i.e. shoving off the original settlers.) So I was surprised to discover myself reading about Bo, an adopted girl, and her homesteading/mining community in Alaska. It's like Little House snuck around and got me anyway! This story meanders through the seasons and the author treats young readers ...more
Rebecca Honeycutt
Adorable to the zillionth degree. A cozy, feel-good read that's sweet (but never cutesy), and focused on an unorthodox family and a close, caring community. (Also, lots of stuff about gold mining in 1920s Alaska, but very few kids are going to pick up this book for that reason.)

LeUyen Pham's expressive illustrations add additional charm to the story (Bo's grumpy face after having her hair curled is especially priceless), but to me, what stands out about this book is its honest portrayal of a chi
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the Little House books.
Some books are like coming home, and for me reading Bo at Ballard Creek was like being wrapped in a warm, cozy blanket by a parent as I snuggled up for the evening. It’s quite unusual for a book I’ve never read before to give me that feeling, but when something manages to be so utterly in the vein of my childhood love of Little House, while very obviously doing its own thing, I can’t help but enjoy.

Bo at Ballard Creek is a juvenile title aimed at readers younger than the middle grade titles I u
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Five year old Bo lives with her two Papas--African American Jack from Louisiana, and Arvid from Sweden--in a tiny mining town in 1929 Alaska. The town is truly multicultural, populated by Inuit and miners from all over the world, as well as a couple of good-time girls, a schoolteacher, a few old-timers, and the telegraph operator. In episodic fashion like 'Little House in the Big Woods,' we learn about all the activities during Bo's year, as she visits with all the town people, runs around with ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
genre: historical fiction

summary: Bo has two fathers. She calls them both, "Papa". Her mother gave her away as an infant. Instead of taking her to the local orphanage two large, burly mining men decide to raise her as their own. Her papas are Jack (an African-american man from Louisiana) and Arvid (a man from Sweden). The book describes her life in the small mining-town of Ballard Creek Alaska during the late twenties.

notes: the author stays true to the era and the problems that arise without g
Ms. Yingling
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In 1920s Alaska, Bo has been abandoned by her mother and has come into the care of Arvid, a blacksmith, and Jack, a cook for a mining company. The two burly men make a home for Bo with the help of the other people in the community. Bo's best friend, Oscar, is Eskimo, and Bo likes spending time with his mother and sister as well. She enjoys the retired "fancy ladies" Lilly and Yovela, even though they are much too fond of trying to curl her hair and dress her up. Most of the chapters are just des ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Bo at Ballard Creek" is the 2014 Scott O'Dell Award winner, for good reason, but what I loved most about this book is what a wonderful read-aloud it would be for kindergarten to probably second or third grade. As I was reading, it reminded me of another type of book. Finally, I realized it was "Little House in the Big Woods." I try not to read the back cover of a book until I've finished, because I don't want to be influenced or have any spoilers. When I did, I was surprised and pleased by this ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
I started reading this book to see if it would be a story my students would enjoy, the cover and illustrations are quite inviting. Unfortunately I put it down a few chapters in. The book is geared for 8-12 year olds, that's second grade to sixth grade, and I don't find it appropriate for my students. There are to many "damns" and "hells" and descriptions of professions "good time girls" that do not need to be explained to elementary children. The author writes well but I cannot in good conscious ...more
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
When I delved into the first chapters of this book I thought, "well, this is an unusual story line: a baby abandoned by her 'goodtime girl' mother and basically shoved into the arms of 2 big, burly miners". As I read further I thought "Little House meets wild and wooley Alaska" and when I finished my mind was full of wonderful stories, memorable characters and a forthright portrayal of Alaska in the early 20th Century. Throughout the past few days bits and pieces of the book will come to mind an ...more
Besides showcasing a non-traditional definition of family, I loved this book for its darling illustrations, easy flow and style, and the depiction of multiple cultures. The primary focus is on the small mining town which incorporates a variety of nationalities, but the local Eskimo families are interwoven into the storyline as well. There is a frankness about this book that is unusual: "good-time girls" are frequently mentioned, as is child and spouse abandonment, death, and other realities of l ...more
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely charming tale about a spunky little girl in 1920s Alaska who just happens to have two papas: big strapping gold miners named Arvid (the Swede) and Jack (the black blacksmith-cum-cook). Bo's a sweet, loveable little girl who learns both Eskimo and English and gets into a variety of small adventures and scrapes. Jack and Arvid are an endearing, caring pair, and the descriptions of life in the Alaskan wilds are fun and well-seasoned with realism. A Little House in the Prairie for a ne ...more
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
I loved this! Boisterous and charming with a breath-taking Alaskan landscape. And I learned a lot about Eskimo culture.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alaska
This book is a little gem!
Bo is a little girl with two papas that lives in a mining camp in Alaska in the 1920s. To find out how she got be such a lucky little girl and what adventures she had, you will have to read the book!
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

When Bo was a baby, her Mama “walked away”, leaving her to be raised by two burly gold miners, Arvid and Jack. Now she is five years old, and everyone at Ballard Creek is a part of her extended family. She jokes around with “the boys” and imitates their accents. The “good-time girls” dress her up and do her hair. She speaks Eskimo along with English, and enjoys Eskimo foods such as akutaq, which is made from caribou bone marrow and fat. This
Julie Kirchner
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is nominated for a Maud Hart Lovelace award. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise and I’m glad I did. A fun, adventurous, historical fiction story that takes place in the 1920s at the end of the gold rush. Two men take in an orphan girl and together, with help from the rest of the camp, they raise her. Lots of fantastic characters and interesting storylines in the varied chapters. Kids will enjoy it.
Rachel B
May 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, children
The illustrations were absolutely gorgeous and are the reason I picked this book up in the first place. It's too bad the text wasn't as wonderful as the pictures!

This is supposedly geared for kids aged 8-12, but I didn't feel the content was appropriate. I had to edit a lot of this book while reading it out loud to my nieces.

There is quite a bit of profanity (something that I don't like even in adult reads, but is completely unacceptable in a children's book). There are references to "good time
Christie Burke
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot - it's a sweet story and the perspective (third-person, in the mind of a five-year-old girl) is pretty perfect.

It's true that there is a *tiny* bit of language (hell; damned if I know; Jesus, I'd like to shake your hand), and it's true that Bo refers to some of her grownup friends as "good time girls." YMMV. The phrase isn't explained; the language is part of the everyday of the setting (1920s Alaska mining town).
Because I was watching for the effect of those decisions in th
Margaret Behr
I tried but could not get into this book. A few things grated on me:

1. I think Bo's papas, Jack and Arvid are gay. I fully support gay marriage but I wish this book would have handled the subject better. There's a story about how Bo came to Ballard Creek as an orphan and folks asked whose baby she was.
"'That's your baby?' They asked Arvid, because they knew right away couldn't be mine, black as I am," Jack said. 'It's our baby,' Arvid told them."
In my personal opinion, this book is intended
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is what I would hand kids to read instead of Little House on the Prairie. Too many things in the Wilder books are dated and painful, while this is not. Taking place in the Yukon in the 1920s, this is a delightful little story about two big, hulking blacksmiths raising a little girl. It's a slice of life in a mining town in Alaska, over the course of a year. The reader learns a lot about life in that environment, including things about the native Alaskans and their culture. Bo and her t ...more
Ashley Jacobson
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Eh. There is better literature out there. I won't waste my time on this again.

DNF- the writing was ok and it was a look at a culture that's not written about often, so there is nothing terribly wrong with it. There are just better things out there I want to read.

The main character, Bo, has 2 dads, but there is no explanation as to whether this is a homosexual relationship or whether these are two friends that are living together (I guess that happened at the time since single men traveled from
Ms. B
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this one!
Set in 1929, we don't really know how old Bo is. We only know that she is too young to attend school. Set at a mining camp in a small town in Alaska, each chapter is its own little sweet story about what happens to Bo or the various townspeople through the course of a year.
With short chapters and darling illustrations by LeUyen Pham, it's an easy one to read, set down, and read again when one has time. Give this one to fans of Louise Erdrich's Birchbark House series, La
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspiring story of humanity even in the most unlikely places. Two tough and rough miners come into the company of a tiny baby girl and decide to keep her to raise. Bo becomes a joy to all in the town as she is a reminder of everything that is good and happy in the world. The details about the Alaskan wild during this time frame seem to be well researched. This accuracy adds to the interest of the book for readers. Bo and her unusual parents have adventures throughout the chapters of t ...more
Deb Diner
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The brilliance of this book is in its ability to be sweet without ever being cloying, to be optimistic without ever becoming trite, and to present the details of a time gone by without relying on stereotype or nostalgia to carry the reader through. I cannot recommend it enough. You will learn about life in an Alaska gold mine town, you will fall in love with each and every character, you will stay on the edge of your seat as Bo finds her way through life. Read it!!!
Foothill Library! Salt Lake City Public Library
A quaint Alaskan mining town offers plenty of adventure and friendships for a spirited young girl. Charmingly written with characters you’ll easily grow fond of.

Kathy Ellen Davis
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Really cute book.
Great piece of historical fiction.
I think kids will really like the spunky character of Bo,
and the cast she lives with.
Elizabeth Johnson
Feb 06, 2014 marked it as didn-t-finish
Shelves: 2013
Because life is too short to force myself into a book.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
STJ Readers!: Bo at Ballard Creek 1 2 Jul 29, 2019 07:24AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad
  • Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War
  • Written in Stone
  • P.S. Be Eleven (Gaither Sisters, #2)
  • Gingersnap
  • Dogtag Summer
  • Twelve Kinds of Ice
  • The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel
  • The Mighty Lalouche
  • All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
  • The Year of the Baby (Anna Wang #2)
  • Will Sparrow's Road
  • Nickel Bay Nick
  • This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration
  • The Madman of Piney Woods
  • Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty
  • Sweet Home Alaska
  • The Porcupine Year
See similar books…
Kirkpatrick Hill lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. She was an elementary school teacher for more than thirty years, most of that time in the Alaskan "bush." Hill is the mother of six children and the grandmother of eight. Her three earlier books, Toughboy and Sister, Winter Camp, and The Year of Miss Agnes, have all been immensely popular. Her fourth book with McElderry Books, Dancing at the Odinochka, ...more

Other books in the series

Bo at Ballard Creek (2 books)
  • Bo at Iditarod Creek