CHAPTER ONELIKE TURTLES BO HAD TWO FATHERS
and no mothers, and after she got the fathers, she got a brother too. But not in the usual way.
* * *HER TWO FATHERS
were Jack Jackson and Arvid Ivorsen. They’d come to Alaska with the 1897 Klondike gold rush when they were young, a long time before they got Bo. The girl Jack was going to marry had died, and Arvid had just buried his mother, so they didn’t have any reason to stay where they were.
They were both extra big. Not just tall, not that beanpole tall, but that kind of massive tall, six four or six five, with huge, deep voices and powerful, big fists. And they were both blacksmiths, her two fathers. But those were the only ways they were the same.
Of course Bo figured out when she wasn’t too old that her family was not like any other family in Ballard Creek. The Eskimo children had mamas and papas, and grandmas and grandpas, and aunts and uncles and cousins.
“Do I have a mama?” she asked one day.
“Well, everyone has a mama,” said Jack. “But sometimes mamas don’t stick around, you know. Just walk off. Lots of animals like that.” He was quiet for a minute, trying to think of an animal that took off, didn’t hang around. “Turtles,” he said suddenly. “Where I come from, they got big turtles, lay their eggs in a hole, just walk away.”
Bo considered that. “Did my mama walk away?”
“Sure did,” said Jack, “and lucky for us, someone giving away babies. Just what me and Arvid needed.”
Bo knew about giving away babies. Gracie had given her baby girl, Evalina, to Big Jim and Dishoo, because they didn’t have any babies and Gracie had two and one was enough.
So that was enough of an answer for Bo when she was little.
* * *JACK HAD A REAL NAME
: Gideon. But when he came up north, he right away got the name Black Jack—because he was black, and a blacksmith besides, and his last name was Jackson. He liked that name fine because he didn’t like the name Gideon. Arvid was called Swede by nearly everyone, or Big Swede, because he was.
Everyone had nicknames in those Klondike days. It was very popular. Jack used to tell Bo some of the crazy names and how people got them, to make her laugh. Like Tin Kettle George and Slobbery Tom and Pete the Pig and Calamity Bill. The dance-hall girls all had nicknames too, Jack said, like Gold-Tooth Gertie and Rompin’ Rosie. Jack said nicknames were good for the girls’ business.
Bo called Jack Papa and she called Arvid Papa. No one remembered how she’d decided on Papa, but it was right about the time she learned to talk. She was too little to understand that nobody would know who she was talking to if they were both
called the same thing, so that’s the way it stayed. Papa for both of them. And actually, somehow it didn̵
Praise for Bo at Ballard Creek:
“Fans of the classic Little House books will soak in the atmospheric look at a particular time and place. A great choice for classroom units on the gold rush.” —Booklist
* “Cheerful and uncomplicated.” —The Horn Book, starred review
“A warm tale set in an Alaskan gold-mining town in 1929-30 . . . Bo is an endearing Pollyanna in a parka.” —Kirkus Reviews
Praise and awards for The Year of Miss Agnes:
· California Young Reader’s Medal Winner
· Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award Winner
· South Carolina Children’s Book Award Nominee
· Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
“Hill has created more than just an appealing cast of characters; she introduces readers to a whole community and makes a long-ago and faraway place seem real and very much alive. This is an inspirational story about Alaska, the old and new ways, a very special teacher, and the influence that she has over everyone she meets. A wonderful read-aloud to start off the school year.” —School Library Journal
“An uplifting portrait of a dedicated teacher.” —Booklist
“A quiet, yet satisfying account.” —Kirkus Reviews