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Bo at Ballard Creek (Bo at Ballard Creek #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  584 Ratings  ·  166 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)
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Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead GeorgeThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonGentle Ben by Walt MoreyBo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick HillBlack Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O'Dell
YA & Middle Grade Fiction set in Alaska
4th out of 96 books — 13 voters
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanNavigating Early by Clare VanderpoolDoll Bones by Holly BlackEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris GrabensteinFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2014
62nd out of 113 books — 453 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
Jun 24, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing
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 Melody 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
Aug 14, 2013 Phoebe 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
Jan 27, 2014 Linnea 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
Sep 26, 2015 Michele 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
Jan 26, 2015 Angie 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. An Little House in the Prairie for a n ...more
Ms. Yingling
Oct 25, 2013 Ms. Yingling 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
Jul 20, 2013 Rebecca 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
Jun 17, 2013 Heidi 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
Dec 08, 2014 Barbara 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
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
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
Susan Rowe
Apr 02, 2016 Susan Rowe rated it really liked it
Scott O’ Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Hill, Kirkpatrick. Bo at Ballard Creek. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2014. Print.

An orphan is taken in by two blacksmiths in 1920 Alaska. She is given up by goodtime girl, Mean Millie. The two huge, tenderhearted men cannot take her to the orphanage as Millie demands. Ballard Creek consists of miners who have come from various places in the world and Eskimos. Everyone helps raise Bo and many adventures ensue. She is chased by a grizzly, sees her fir
Sep 05, 2015 Chelinda rated it it was amazing
Rarely do I find a book in which I fall instantaneously in love. Especially one from the Juvenile Fiction section. After reading this ingenious historical fiction, I immediately searched for every book Kirkpatrick Hill has ever written. Thankfully, this was not her first but it is definitely her most polished.

Written from the viewpoint of an innocent 5 year old child, this story describes the living conditions of the Yukon in the 1920's. Set in a mining camp, Bo has been adopted by two of the c
Valerie Lurquin
Jun 04, 2015 Valerie Lurquin rated it really liked it
Bo at Ballard Creek is the story about a little 5 year old girl named Bo, who is growing up in Alaska after the big gold rushes. It was 1920s, and she was going to an Alaskan orphanage. She ran into two gold miners who chose to raise her, along with the help of the nice people in the Eskimo village nearby. She calls both of the miners, Jack and Arvid, "papa". Bo is able to learn Eskimo and English, how to cook, how to polka dance, and even gets to rid the dog sled with Big Annie and her dog team ...more
Michelle Pegram
Feb 24, 2014 Michelle Pegram rated it it was amazing
Reminiscent of The Little House in the Prairie series, Bo at Ballard Creek follows one year in the life of a 4-yr-old girl who was adopted by two blacksmiths on their way to work in a mining camp in gold rush Alaska.

Bo was born to a prostitute who left the baby with the two men, Jack, a large black man, and Arvid, a large Swedish man, telling them to drop it at an orphanage in a town they would pass through. When they got there, the nuns looked mean so they just kept on going.

Ballard Creek is a
Jun 06, 2014 Serina rated it did not like it
Shelves: gs-int2014
It took me a week to read 100 pages. With this having about 300, looks like this one is going on the DNF list. Written for 2nd maaaybe 3rd graders. The main character is a young adopted girl that is 5 years old. She is extremely quiet and obediant. She ends up getting adopted by two men in Alaska in the 1930s. (My friend who I told this was laughing cuz they thought it was trying to promote a gay lifestyle on the sly; but as I reasure them and you: its not. Its really not.) The reason why this i ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
My daughter, now age 10.75, would have liked this book a lot more few years back. She loved calm, sweet little books like this (though until the age of 9 might have been bothered by some of the bigger dramas -- serious illness (pneumonia) and parental death/abandonment.)

I loved the characters and how the plot and writing was really friendly for kids but still fun to read aloud. She still liked it now, but having just finished reading the first 3 Harry Potter books, she was at first wondering --
Jessica Davis
May 01, 2015 Jessica Davis rated it really liked it
The book Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill is Historical Fiction book intended for ages 8-12. This book received the Scott O'Dell award.

This book is about a orphan named Bo. That was taken in by two men who would raise her.

I rated this book a 4 star because it teaches you that there are some people out there that still care about complete strangers. They raise her in the state of Alaska. The plot and characters were described in detail.

I think that it would be appealing to children becaus
Hollis Shiloh
Jan 18, 2016 Hollis Shiloh rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story! Reminded me of the Little House books in many ways. It's about two men who adopt a baby in Alaska during the Gold Rush era, and what it feels like for her growing up.

The book has lots of historical details as well as being a really warm, sweet story about growing up in a specific era surrounded by loving family and friends. A sweet story I highly recommend.

The illustrations are wonderful, too! They add a lot to the story. I love the racial diversity in the story, how the
Jan 21, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-primary
Final score between 4.5 and 5 only because sometimes it seemed a bit long for the age group that will read it , say 8.5 yrs to 10. Good for read alouds for younger kids though.
Everything is delightful about this book, lots of warmth, love , humour, celebrations and community togetherness in the harsh environment of an Alaskan gold mining area in 1928-1930.
The main character Bo is about 5 yrs old with a very good friend Oscar who is about a year older and 2 papas, one black, one white. There is
Bo at Ballard Creek offers a glimpse into a life that few today would know about. Baby Bo is adopted by two giant miners in Alaska in the 1920s. She is left behind by her mother when she is a baby and is adopted by Jack, an African-American originally from Lousiana, and Arvid, a Swede. She learns Eskimo along with English, rides a sleigh pulled by a dog team, and witnesses the rare event of an airplane landing. One day another small child shows up in town and no one knows his story. What is to b ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Andy rated it liked it
(3.5 stars)
I don't like most historical fiction, and day-to-day life stories and episodic books often bore me, so I wasn't really looking forward to this, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Bo is a 4 or 5 year old girl living in Alaska in 1930 or so with her 2 adoptive dads (1 a white Swede, the other a black Georgian, and nope, not gay), and while the situation might not seem super-realistic, Bo struck me as being a "real" creation, and reasonably life-like, with emotions and attitud
Emma Hoyer
Apr 03, 2015 Emma Hoyer rated it it was amazing
Literature Requirement: **ALA Notable Children’s Books 2014**

BEWARE OF SPOILERS (Don't say I didn't warn you!)

I absolutely adored this book! I am so intrigued by the community of miners that lived in Alaska during the 1920s and 1930s. That world is drastically different than the world I know, and books like this allow me to have access to a world I will never have a chance to experience. I love how this book is from the perspective, in part, of a younger child. Bo is adorable and has a lot to le
Shannon Jacob
Dec 05, 2014 Shannon Jacob rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs-642
Hill, K. (2013). Bo at Ballard Creek. New York: Henry Holt and Co.

American Library Association – 2014 Notable’s Children Book

Fiction Choice


Children will love the adventure of this book set back in Alaska during the 1920's Gold Rush. Bo is an orphan who is adopted by two gold miners and experiences adventure and excitement such as her first airplane, a mysterious boy and a close encounter with a bear. Strong characterization, an exciting plot and a historical setting make this book perfe
May 22, 2016 Cindy rated it liked it
Bo is raised by those who diverted her from going to an orphanage. The setting is in Alaska after the big gold rushes. The author states she was born in mining camps and this detail in day to day routines throughout the book is vivid for the reader. The variety of people who settle at the camp and the willingness to help each other consistently is remarkable. However, the use of God and Jesus as a filler word in the dialogue of some of the characters is quite incongruous with the respectful enth ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Jennybeast rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for frontier stories, and I like it even better when they really teach me something about a time or a place. These books are so upbeat and curiously cheerful that I just adored them. I love the pragmatic responses of the papas to Bo's upbringing -- the rules are so very firm, but never applied with anger. I love the partnership tradition, which strikes me as a uniquely gold-rush sort of thing, where there were so many men living out on their own over such a long time -- handy, too, ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Victoria rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
I read this because my 9 year old enjoyed it so much and it looked cute, but I was bored. I feel badly about it because I actually tend to enjoy a lot of children's books, but this one didn't really keep my interest enough.

I enjoyed learning a lot about Alaska in 1930 where the story takes place. Bo was given up by her mother and was taken in by two miners who were told to bring her to an orphanage. They couldn't do it and instead worked to raise her themselves. This is about the people that Bo
Jan 08, 2014 Phoebe rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Cathy, Avan
Bo is a little girl living in the Ballard Creek mining camp in the late 1920s. Her family is unconventional, but loving; her mother handed her new baby girl to a big miner named Arvid and took off, leaving Bo to be raised by Arvid and his partner, Jack. Hill does not clearly address the nature of the relationship between Arvid and Jack, Bo's two papas, but it really doesn't matter. Bo herself is a darling character, fully immersing herself in her world, completely secure in the love by which she ...more
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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
More about Kirkpatrick Hill...

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