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Sweet Home Alaska

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  593 ratings  ·  172 reviews
This exciting pioneering story, based on actual events, introduces readers to a fascinating chapter in American history, when FDR set up a New Deal colony in Alaska to give loans and land to families struggling during the Great Depression.
Terpsichore can’t wait to follow in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s footsteps . . . now she just has to convince her mom. It’s 1934, and times
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  593 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Apr 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Anytime I see "pioneering" used to describe stories like this, I wonder about the people whose lands were being made available to those "pioneers."

In her author's note, Dagg writes (p. 290):

A notable omission in accounts I read of the Palmer Colony was reference to the people who were in Alaska for thousands of years before the colonists: the various Eskimo, Aleut, Athabaskan, and other Indian tribes. Since I married into a part-Native family, I was concerned about this omission, but finally dec
Fans of pioneer historical fiction like Caddie Woodlawn and the Little House on the Prairie series will get a kick out of this story about the Alaskan pioneering community of Palmer. When the mill her father is the bookkeeper for closes down, Terpsichore Johnson and her family decide to participate in President Roosevelt's homesteading program in Alaska. Terpsichore, or Trip, as she's sometimes called, is excited to follow in the footsteps of her favorite author, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Terpsichor ...more
Heather Moore
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A perfectly timed audiobook with my 11 year old since we just covered The Great Depression and FDR’s New Deal in our history lessons. We both love, love, loved it! You can’t help but fall in love with Terpsichore (Terp-sick-oree, for those who don’t listen to the audio — but listen if you can, as Susan Denaker is an outstanding narrator) and her can-do, make-it-happen, pioneer spirit. Maybe best described as Little House meets The Penderwicks set in 1930’s Alaska, this story of simple family lif ...more
Scottsdale Public Library
"It was magic; Alaska magic."
Growing huge pumpkins, kids starting libraries, taking a family to the Alaska frontier, and more adventures that take place during the Great Depression.
Fans of The Little House on the Prairie books will enjoy this sweet story as well. –Megan G.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever reread Laura Ingalls Wilder's books as an adult and wondered about outhouses, washing diapers, the practicalities of cooking and whether it was really as nice as it sounds, this charming story of a young girl trying to make a success of the pioneer life in Alaska will do the trick.

I started it in the evening, and stayed up late to finish!
Penny Peck
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-ya
Terpsichore and her family move from Wisconsin to a new planned homesteading community in Alaska during the Great Depression, where they have to build their house, grow food, and learn to can salmon. Based on the real Palmer, Alaska, a homesteading community that was started by FDR's administration in the 1930's, this has the daily details that made Wilder's "Little House" series so fascinating. The third person historical fiction tale is memorable and light-hearted, and perfect for 4th through ...more
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just as she did in her first historical novel for young people, THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS, author Carole Estby Dagg combines authentic historical detail with strong, engaging characters, adventurous situations, and touches of humor in all the right places. Readers of SWEET HOME ALASKA will fall in love with smart, gutsy heroine Terpsichore as she and her family experience the rigors of life in an untamed wilderness.
This is a really charming book -- great for Little House on the Prairie fans (there are lots of references to the books and characters). But also great for fans of straightforward, plot-driven fiction. The main character is well written, and the little world she inhabits is easy to fall into.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet Home Alaska takes place shortly after the Great Depression just as President Roosevelt announced his New Deal and the Matanuska Colony project, a homesteading endeavor where families received a parcel of land in Palmer, Alaska to build a home and farm. The story follows the Johnson family over the course of about a year as they settle into their new community. In places, this really has the feel of the Little House on the Prarie books, which Terpsichore even makes references to during the ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The family life, drama and adventure in this book was fun to read! I thought that the different characters were believable and the interactions (between family members and outside people) were well thought out and realistic. The ending left me thinking there could be a sequel though.

This was part of a "book crate" that I ordered. It was the family read-aloud from the box and while I really enjoyed the story I found it to be somewhat difficult as a read a loud. There were a lot of conversations o
Karen Hatch
Great YA book about Alaska. An historical fiction about a young girl and her family that move to Alaska during the Depression. The US Gov moved over 200 families off relief to Alaska to start the town of Palmer. The book has a "Little House on the Prairie" feel to it. Very good and quick read!
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile

Historical fiction -- one of the mainstays of my childhood reading – seems to have fallen out of favor with today’s kids. Occasionally, one will gain some momentum and become a hit, such as “Chains” (Anderson), “The War That Saved My Life” (Bradley), or “Our Only May Amelia (Holm). It seems that kids have no qualms about transporting themselves to an often bleak and dystopian future, but they don’t consider traveling to the past. It’s a shame, because they are missing so much.

As a librarian,

Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Terpsichore (Terp-sick-oh-ree) Johnson is devastated to learn her best friend's family is going to settle in Matanuska Colony Alaska- part of a New Deal plan where families will learn to become self-reliant farmers. Terpsichore vows to do anything she can to make sure her family goes too. When her plans go awry, she finds herself stuck in the middle of nowhere living in a tent with her parents, precocious twin sisters and baby brother. The only kid she knows is an annoying boy with a cat-scaring ...more
Fred Pollock
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this novel as soon as the audio book arrived at the library (The book arrived a bit later). From what I had read, the story sounded like something I would like and didn't fail. The style, the pacing, the plot and the characters work together to make a wonderfully enjoyable novel. I found that listening to the book was a lot of fun and turned out to be helpful just for the sake of pronouncing a couple of names.

Sweet Home Alaska takes place in FDR's New Deal era when the Johnson fami
Patricia Tilton
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful story about the Great Depression and the 202 families that risked everything to settle Alaska's real-life Palmer Colony in 1934. This lively and authentic story is about the harsh realities of life and work for any homesteader, let alone 11-year-old Terpsichore (Terp-sick-oh-ree) Johnson and her family. Dagg expertly explores the meaning of family relationships, friendships, hardship, pioneer cooperation, faith and home.

The setting is realistic, the plot is original and moves
Emily M
Update: read aloud to the kids this spring, and they all adored it. Excellent as a read aloud, and I was delighted by the family just as much the second time around.

Original review:

Well, this was a surprising delight! My 8 year old picked it up at the library, and we both loved it. We loved Terpischore's can-do spirit (especially raising her Laura and Almanzo pumpkins!), the family dynamics, the pioneer spirit of the settlers, and the friendships with Mendel and Gloria. While including plenty o
A great story of the New Deal that Roosevelt made with 200 families from Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin to settle Matanuska valley. A delightful historical fiction for Young Adults.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
An adventure packed story about a family's struggles of pioneering in Alaska.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sweet Home Alaska #sweethomealaska

By Carole Estby Dagg #caroleestbydagg

Cover by Erika Steiskal @erikasteiskal

Published by Penguin Random House @penguinrandomhouse

Thank you to the author, @blue_slip_media and @barbfisch for sharing this free book with me. All opinions are my own.

Oh, how I love to learn about history as I’m reading a really fun book! That’s just what happened when I read the middle grade SWEET HOME ALASKA! It all began with the northwoods cover by @erikasteiskal. Looking at that,
During the Depression, Terpsichore's family is in desperate straits after the town's mill closes. Hearing of a New Deal project to start a colony in Alaska, Terpsichore's father is eager to go, though her mother--a piano teacher who prefers 'civilization'--loathes the idea. She agrees to try it for one year, though, and the family heads for Palmer, Alaska. It's a tough first year, starting out in tents and facing hard work to clear land and build houses, though at least they have modern equipmen ...more
* Thank you to Puffin Books for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Last year, my 2nd graders class explored the westward expansion. This is a great book to show that during the Depression the government encouraged people to move to Alaska and be homesteaders. They had to leave everything they knew and build a community in a place where winter is exceptionally harsh and where electricity and indoor plumbing were extravagances. Sweet Home Alaska conveys what it might have been li
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have always been interested in Alaska. When I read the premise of this young adult book, I knew it would be one I would probably love, and I was not wrong.

Sweet Home Alaska follows the Johnson family during the Great Depression. They are from Wisconsin, but work is drying up for everyone. As part of his New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt created a program to move 202 eligible families to the territory of Alaska (still about 25 years before it became a state) to set them up in their own pl
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
As a fan of historical fiction and a person with a deep desire to go to Alaska, I felt like this book was going to be right up my ally. It wasn't disappointment I felt after reading this book but more so a lackluster humdrum, which started with the setting. Sure the fact that the family has moved to Alaska plays into the story in the sense that they have left their friends and family back home in Wisconsin, but they could have moved to Florida and gone through the same emotions. I've always view ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s 1934 and the Great Depression has hit America hard. Young Terpsichore’s father has lost his job and they’re running out of options. When FDR begins the Palmer Colony project, Trip and her family join hundreds of other families in hopes of starting over in Alaska. Trip is excited to be a pioneer like Laura Ingalls Wilder, but once they arrive in Alaska, they soon discover that things will be harder than they thought. Can a giant pumpkin, a library project, and some new friends help Trip conv ...more
Challice Neipp
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It has been a very long time since I raved about a book like I have this one. First of all, why have I never heard of this?! This should be right next to your Little House Series and those childhood classics that we love and hold so dear. My biggest review I can give is the fact that I am a bit hoarse right now. I just finished reading for about 2 hours straight. My children stayed up past their bedtime and kept begging for "just one more chapter, mom? Please?"

Terp-sic-chore is a darling charac
Valerie McEnroe
Adult rating: 4 stars
Kid rating: 3 stars

There's a lot of good things in this book about a virtually unknown FDR economic program. With the U.S. in the throes of the Great Depression in the 1930s, FDR offers Alaskan land and loans to economically depressed families in the upper mid-west. Terpsichore Johnson's family is one of those chosen. Her mother reluctantly goes along with it. The settlement begins as nothing more than a tent community. At first the Johnson's have to share a tent with anothe
Jeana Lawrence
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was more of 3.5 but I'm rounding up since the facts and premise of the story was just so interesting. Terpsichore's family decides to move to Alaska as part of a New Deal program to give families on welfare a chance to start anew by colonizing the wild frontier of Alaska. Terpsichore is determined to stay and make the best of her situation, which doesn't start out the best. There are no modern amenities, like plumbing or electricity, and for the better part of the year, she and her family l ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This historical fiction story was entertaining and unique, but it suffered a little because there was really no tension or climax. Terpsichore and her family is facing poverty during the Great Depression in their small town in Wisconsin when the local lumber mill closes and her father loses his job. Then they hear about a program for farmers and their families willing to relocate to the Matanuska Valley in Alaska and start a farming community there, all expenses paid by the government. Everyone ...more
Megan - Alohamora Open a Book
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Little House on the Prairie fans.
"It was magic; Alaska magic."

Fantastic book about an adventurous family that heads to Alaska during the Great Depression when land was being offered for free from the government. This historical fiction would make a great classroom read aloud with it's Little House on the Prairie vibe; boys and girls alike will enjoy this story. Though, girls will probably enjoy it more with the main character, Terpsichore, being a girl. Fun and engaging story for upper elementary aged kids.

Rating: 4/5 stars
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
So, this was a well written historical fiction children's novel based on a true story of a group of settlers who move from the contiguous U.S. to Alaska, one of FDR's New Deal programs, in order to become self-sufficient and get off of relief. The author stays historically accurate to people's stereotypes concerning Alaska (i.e., "I don't want to live in an igloo [eat whale blubber]!") at the time but carefully never mentions the Natives indigenous to the state and focuses on her fictional pione ...more
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After careers as a children's librarian, certified public accountant, and assistant library director, I retired early to do what I had always wanted to do: write. My first book, The Year We Were Famous, was based on the true story of my great-aunt's 4,000-mile walk with her mother across the country in 1896.

My second book, Sweet Home Alaska, was inspired when my son bought a 1930's house across f