Cover image for Bo at Iditarod Creek
Bo at Iditarod Creek
First edition.
Physical Description:
281 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Sequel to: Bo at Ballard Creek.
Reading Level:
760 L Lexile
Added Author:
In 1920s Alaska, when five-year-old Bo and her two adoptive fathers move to Iditarod Creek to work at a new gold mine, Bo feels homesick until she realizes there is friendship to be found everywhere--and Iditarod Creek may hold some surprises for her already unconventional family.


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A heartwarming tale about weathering change and what it means to be family.

Ever since five-year-old Bo can remember, she and her papas have lived in the little Alaskan mining town of Ballard Creek. Now the family must move upriver to Iditarod Creek for work at a new mine, and Bo is losing the only home she's ever known. Initially homesick, she soon realizes that there is warmth and friendship to be found everywhere . . . and what's more, her new town may hold an unexpected addition to her already unconventional family.

As with Bo at Ballard Creek , this stand-alone sequel is a story about love, inclusion, and day-to-day living in the rugged Alaskan bush of the late 1920s. Full of fascinating details, it is an unforgettable story.

Author Notes

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. She has written several books for young readers, including Toughboy and Sister , Winter Camp , and the award-winning The Year of Miss Agnes .

LeUyen Pham has illustrated numerous popular books for children, including Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore and Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio. She is also the author and illustrator of books such as Big Sister, Little Sister and All the Things I Love About You . She lives and works in San Francisco.

Reviews 4

Horn Book Review

"If there's one thing you can count on not counting on, it's gold," so Bo, her two papas, and her new little brother Graf have left their home in the small Alaskan mining camp at Ballard Creek (Bo at Ballard Creek, rev. 5/13) for the bigger and noisier settlement at Iditarod Creek, where Arvid and Jack have jobs working on a gold dredge. This technological advance in mining is just one sign of the times; others include electric lights, bulldozers, and, in news from Outside, the economic Depression taking over the world in 1930. Bo's own world is changing, too, as she learns to read, makes new friends, and acquires yet another adopted brother. A conversation about sames and differents between Bo and one of her new pals leads to a casual reference to Papa Jack as a "nigger," which sparks thoughtful discussion of "bad words" and "mean words" that's well pitched to a young child's understanding. Illustrated with robust spot art and lightly but effectively plotted, this second book about Bo has all the virtues of the first: humor, good nature, and characters and situations that are colorful without ever becoming picturesque. roger sutton (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* This sequel to the Scott O'Dell Award-winning Bo at Ballard Creek (2013) finds Bo, younger brother Graf, and their papas leaving one Alaska mining town for another. After an arduous river journey, they reach Iditarod Creek, settling into a little house near the mines where Arvid and Jack will work. Bo is disappointed there is no school (and only four other children in town), but as she meets neighbors and makes friends, she comes to realize that happiness can be found in many places. Set in the gold fields of Alaska in 1930-31, this episodic novel is just filled with local color. Readers will sense that not everything that happens is wonderful (or even G-rated), but Bo and Graf approach life with a wide-eyed trust that comes from knowing their papas will keep them safe. Pham's frequent pencil illustrations clarify story details and help break up longer sections of text. Reminiscent in tone to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books or Louise Erdrich's Birchbark House series, this volume stands on its own. The rescue and adoption of a third child and a move to another mining locale suggest that more tales of this exceptional family could be in the works.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2014 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Would you rather have a funny or sober dentist? Many such perplexing and sometimes humorous questions are asked in this follow up to Bo on Ballard Creek (Macmillan, 2013). Five-year-old Bo and her lovingly assembled family are on the move to a new Alaskan gold-mining town in the 1920s. Pham's illustrations beautifully match the careful and tender timbre of the book. Vivid historical and geographical details in a time of early American expansion cover the Alaskan landscape, including how people traveled (on pole boats). Each of these details are used to explore people's relationships and the ways that they cared for one another (or didn't) in an often trying world. Bo's family, comprised of her two papas-mining partners who took her in-and an adopted brother, give particularly tender windows into family moments and important life lessons. For instance, one of Bo's fathers is black and gets called the n-word by a child who doesn't know better. The treatment of the incident matches the childlike feel of book: the word is regarded as extremely hurtful-without much deeper exploration. The ending is predictable but heartwarming. Hill's author's note is absolutely necessary for greater, deeper content, though it could be expanded. The series is a good historical fiction alternative to the "Little House on the Prairie" books, with updated understandings of race, gender, and family. It also provides many reasons to be grateful for modern dentistry and air travel.-Lisa Nowlain, Darien Library, CT (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

This sequel to Bo at Ballard Creek (2013) continues the adventures of the 5-year-old gamine and her "two papas," Alaskan gold miners in the late 1920s. Bo's outsized dads, who adopted her in infancy, are loving and hardworking. The conclusion of the first novel saw the family welcoming another child and relocating. In their new town they meet generous, kindly (with one exception) neighbors of various ethnicities. The children explore, make new friends and begin home-schooling. As before, the pacing is leisurely, and much is conveyed through clear exposition that evokes time and place well. Mild expletives and some mentions of smoking and drinking fill in a slightly rough-and-tumble background appropriate to the setting, and some darker elements encroach in the form of a character later revealed to be the victim of heartbreaking abuse. Then, Bo's friend says the N-word, eliciting an adult's firm rebuke. (The author's note explains that at the time, the word was nonchalantly used.) Main characters are well-drawn, but some are stockthe jolly, Yiddish-speaking shopkeeper and the Japanese brothers with broken English feel tired. Overall, another warm and charming outing, and the family's move to a different town and larger, permanent home is a satisfying endingthough Bo's ever changing family dynamic may summon another sequel. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



CHAPTER ONE THE PAPAS BO'S PAPAS were Jack Jackson and Arvid Ivorsen. She didn't have a mama. Bo started out with a mama, of course. Everyone does. Hers was Mean Milly--not a nice motherly sort of person as anyone could tell from her name--but Mean Milly didn't want the job of mama, so she took off. Just before she got on the steamboat headed upriver she marched over to Arvid, who was standing on the riverbank smoking a cigarette, and shoved her baby at him. A few minutes later Jack came out of the mine cookshack and there was Arvid looking startled, standing on the banks of the Yukon with a baby in his arms, watching the steamboat go away. Jack could see that Arvid didn't know one thing about newborns because of the way the baby's head was wobbling around. But Jack was an expert on the subject, so naturally they partnered up to take care of Bo. And that's how Bo came to have no mama and two papas. * * * SHE WASN'T long out of diapers when she found that it wasn't the usual arrangement. And she could see that hers weren't the usual sort of fathers. People meeting them for the first time would get this look on their faces the way people do when they come up against something out of the ordinary. Trying not to look surprised, trying to pretend they'd seen fathers like that lots of times. For one thing, her papas were so much the same. Both massive, with bulging arm muscles straining the sleeves of their shirts. And very tall. You don't often see one man that big, and so two of them together is the kind of thing you can't quite take in for a minute. Other than that, they were completely different. Arvid had ice blue eyes and straight Swedish hair, getting a little thin on top. He always swore in Swedish. Jack was black with smoky gray eyes and a soft Southern way of talking. He hardly ever swore. Bo called them both Papa, which might have gotten confusing, but it didn't. When Graf came along, the papas hardly blinked. Just added him to the mix. Explaining about unusual things can get long and complicated, so when someone asked how he and Arvid came to have two kids, Jack would just smile and say it was downright uncanny how he and Arvid were always both there, right on the spot, whenever someone was giving kids away. * * * ARVID AND JACK had known each other a long time when they got Bo. Arvid came north during the big Klondike gold rush in 1897, and Jack came a few years later along with hordes of other men. That gold rush fizzled out fast, and most of those stampeders, disgusted and broke, couldn't leave fast enough. But some, like Jack and Arvid, stayed--because they liked the mining life and because they liked the country. Over the next twenty years Jack and Arvid often crossed paths in one mining camp or another, had a game of cards or teamed up to do some blacksmithing. They were both working at the Rampart mine when Bo happened to them. Right after that, Jack and Arvid went to work at the Ballard Creek Mine up the Koyukuk River. Jack was the camp cook, and Arvid did the blacksmithing. But after they got Graf, the mine ran out of gold, closed down, and the papas had to find another job. They had to leave the place that had been Bo's home for all of her life. So they were on the way to their new job in a mining camp, which was far away in the Iditarod country. Down two big rivers and up two. Down was easier because they could just glide along the cold river, using the long pole to steer. Up was harder because they had to travel against the current. Then they might have to use the little three-horsepower gas engine--but not any more than they had to because gas was hard to come by. Bo and Graf were under the bow, snuggled into the billow of down sleeping bags their papas kept stored there. They crawled under there when it was raining or the wind was blowing. Bo was trying to teach Graf how to think backwards. Graf had only belonged to them for a little while, so she wanted him to see how lucky it was that they'd all ended up together. But thinking backwards took imagination, and she wasn't sure Graf had any. It was Jack who had taught Bo how to think backwards. "A lot of little things have to happen first before a big thing can happen. Really tiny things--things no one would pay any attention to--could change someone's life forever," he said. Like if Arvid hadn't stopped to have a cigarette, Bo wouldn't ever have belonged to the papas. Just a little, little thing like that had turned her life in a completely different direction. Bo did a lot of thinking backwards. Jack said she was really good at it, because it was like anything else. If you practice a lot, you improve. But you could get carried away--go backwards on and on, all the way to the beginning of the earth. You had to know when to stop. The papas had pulled their yellow slickers on when it started to rain. Jack was hunkered near the bow, reading the water under the brim of his rain hat. Arvid was standing spread-legged for balance, steering the boat with the long pole. If a wind whipped up and turned the river rough, or if the rain fell so hard they couldn't see anymore, the papas would pull the boat up on the beach, and they'd wait it out. But it wasn't that bad yet. It was noisy under the bow, the little waves slap-slapping against the bottom of the boat, the raindrops drumming over their heads on the wood of the bow, so Bo had to talk loudly. "See, Max always brought the mail in the winter with his dog team and Silver was his lead dog. But Silver got a hurt foot, and Max had to put him in the sled. And he hooked up Frosty to take his place. But Frosty wasn't as hard-pulling a dog as Silver, so Max was late with the mail." She paused dramatically. "See, if Max wasn't late, he wouldn't have been behind you and your dad. He would have been ahead of you. So he never would have found you in the mail shack. And you would have frozen. And it's all because of Silver's hurt foot!" Bo thought she had told all this very well, but Graf just gave her a troubled look and didn't say anything. Bo decided to give up on thinking backwards. "Do you remember your dad?" He didn't answer, and she hadn't expected him to. Graf wasn't a big talker. His dad had died in that mail shack, but Graf never talked about anything that happened to him before they got him. Arvid said maybe he didn't remember, and Jack said maybe he didn't want to. She snuggled down and pulled a sleeping bag up over her. The thrumming rain always made her sleepy. Suddenly Graf's head popped out of the sleeping bag, a tuft of hair standing straight up. "He got sick." Bo nodded, startled. "He had a fingernail was torn off." Graf pointed to his index finger to show her which one. "Oh," said Bo, getting that lurch in her stomach that she always got when someone was hurt. "How did that happen?" Graf gave a little shake of his head. Didn't know. Bo smiled. Graf had started to open up. Text copyright © 2014 by Kirkpatrick Hill Illustrations copyright © 2014 by LeUyen Pham Excerpted from Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.