Over the past day, I have been back in the 1920s living in an Alaskan gold mining camp with a young girl named Bo. Her charming and forthright mannerisms and ways of seeing her world engaged me from the start.
"Of course Bo figured out when she wasn't too old that her family as not like any other
family in Ballard Creek." (p.2)
Orphaned as an infant, Bo was taken in by Jack and Arvid, the camp blacksmiths (and a cook and a tailor). She called both men Papa and was beloved by all the folks in Ballard Creek: the "boys" who mined for gold, the Eskimos, the roadhouse man, the telegraph operator, and her best friend Oscar. The narrator's way of telling Bo's story from her own unique perspective made me alternately laugh, nod in understanding, and shed a tear in empathy. I especially liked how her papas did not shield her from difficult things; instead, they respectfully explained situations and helped her carefully consider what she observed and encountered.
Like Kirkpatrick Hill's book The Year of Miss Agnes (one of my favorites to read aloud), Bo at Ballard Creek is a warm story about people who care deeply for each other and whose lives are intertwined by their skills and needs.