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Monday, June 2, 2014

Our Alaska Themed Children's Book Collection

One of the things I want to make sure is a priority for the kids this summer is reading. When it came to reading on a regular basis, I kind of failed during the school year. Basically we read for homework & on the weekends we would read a story or two & that was it. With summer break upon us I really want to focus on reading daily. Especially for the twins since they began reading readiness skills in kindergarten & are always asking for me to read to them or help them read. I want to keep the reading skills & knowledge fresh in their little brains so that they are prepared for the world of reading in 1st grade. Danielle loves having stories read to her & I feel so bad that we didn't read together more in the past months. But, summer is here & we have already been reading a few books daily! 
Among the books we have been reading a whole bunch are the ones from our Alaska themed book collection. A few of these books have been the kids favorites for a long time & a few are relatively new to us. I thought it would be fun to share these books with all of you so that if you are stepping up your reading game with your own kids this summer or you are just looking for something new & fun to read at story time these books might give you inspiration to read them or something else just as wonderful & amazing! 

Sitka Rose by Shelley Gill 
Illustrated by Shannon Cartwright
A tall tale from the far north about a gusty wild rose.
This book has been in the kids book collection for years. It features Sitka Rose, a female Paul Bunyan of sorts & it is a really fun read. One of my favorite parts is about Sitka Rose being born on a mountain near Sitka Sound. There is an adorable illustration of Sitka high up in a spruce tree in a nest with some baby eagles. It is one of my favorite illustrations of the entire book & the kids always giggle at the sight of Sitka Rose in just her diaper & kerchief up in an eagles nest. 

The Pirates of Kachemak Bay by Amy Murrell-Haunold
Illustrated by Cindy Pendleton 
I found this book at one of the many indoor farm-market like festivals a couple of winters ago & I'm so glad I did. It tells the story of siblings, Rudy who is 7 & his little sister Gia, who is 5. Together they go on an adventure with Rudy pretending to be Captain Cook & Gia is the little sister he is "pirate" babysitting. This is such a fun & playful story that is really great for any of your little adventurous ones. This book also has a glossary in the back that showcases some neat seaside shells & creatures. 

Greetings, Earthling-Zipper's Alaska Adventure by Amy Murrell-Haunold
Illustrated by Cindy Pendleton
This fun little story is written & illustrated by the same team (they are actually sisters!) as The Pirates of Kachemak Bay. The story is about a little alien boy who disobeys his mother & rides the aurora until he reaches planet earth. Upon his arrival to our planet he ends up in Alaska & discovers a few great creatures along the way. Upon his arrival home he gets some scolding from his mother & finds a tiny earthling had traveled home with him. It is just a fantastic story & the kids love it! There is even an little glossary in the back that features some of the things Zipper encounters in Alaska on his adventure. 

Alaska's 12 Days of Summer by Pat Chamberlin-Calamar
Illustrated by Shannon Cartwright
This book has been so well loved by our family! It is such a fun read/song for kids of all ages. Just be warned that once you read it, it will be stuck in your head ALL DAY LONG. The whole book is set to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas & between the fun factor of the song & the wonderful illustrations your kids will be hooked! There is also a little paragraph of info on each page about each animal mentioned for each of the 12 days. 

These next two books are winter themed, & while we really love them, we do not seem to read them as much in the spring/summer. Probably because we have such long winters as it is the kids & I really do not seem as likely to want to read about it in the summer! 

Kiana's Iditarod by Shelley Gill 
Illustrated by Shannon Cartwright
This book is an Alaska children's book classic! It starts off with an informative page about the Iditarod, a sled dog race that began in 1973. This story follows Kiana, a lead dog on her journey through the Iditarod. I think it is a great story & it takes you through  all of the villages/checkpoints through out the race while featuring a lot of Alaska's culture & heritage along the way. It is the longest Alaska themed book we have but the illustrations are wonderful & the kids adore Kiana's journey. Just not so much in the summer time. ;) 

The Vole Family in Winter-When the Northern Lights Come Out to Play by Claudia Lively & Holly Olsen
Illustrated by Elizabeth Hissem
This book is all about a little vole family whose mother tells them the story of the Northern Lights. While the Northern Lights dance across the Alaskan sky all sorts of animals come out to play & enjoy the fun. From arctic foxes to caribou they all engage in some night time festivities & in the end they become a totem pole (the kids favorite part!). At the end there is a really detailed & informative Did You Know/Glossary section.  We read this one a little more in the summer time than Kiana's Iditarod because only a short section takes place in the winter when the vole family is hibernating, then the mother vole starts off on her story. :) 

These next 3 books were sent to me by the Sasquatch Books (Link) to share with all of you. While we didn't read as much as I would of liked throughout the school year, these were 3 of the most reached for books in our collection. 

Alaska's Dog Heroes-True Stories of Remarkable Canines by Shelley Gill
Illustrated by Robin James
As you can see this book has gotten some serious kid love in the few short months we have had it! Nikoli loves this book so much he has even asked to sleep with it in his bed on a few occasions. This book is different from the rest I have mentioned because it is not a story...but a collection of tales about a bunch of amazing heroic pups. It is a great book to have on hand to just read a short story of sorts while you are waiting, I like to bring it with to restaurants or to doctor appointments. The tales are the perfect length for when you need just a short story to keep your kids attention occupied for a few minutes. 

Grizzly Bears of Alaska by Debbie S. Miller
Illustrated by Patrick J. Endres
This book is probably best for kids who are a little bit older, while our kids (ages almost 7 & almost 6), love to hear all kinds of information/facts this book in its entire length is a bit too long to keep their attention. Since it is the only true non-fiction book in our Alaska themed collection I like to read a page or two to the kids each day over a period of about 2 weeks. Right now we are reading a page an evening before bed as a part of our nighttime-storytime. The kids love all of the information & they end up asking me 1000 questions after we read each page. :) Also, this book features some beautiful & powerful photography by Patrick J. Endres. The images do a great job of capturing the power & strength of Alaska's grizzlies. 

Alaska's Sleeping Beauty by Mindy Dwyer
The kids current favorite book, out of the hundreds we have is this one. We loved Mindy Dwyer's re-telling of Cinderella in her book The Salmon Princess so I was thrilled when I discovered Sasquatch sent us this book! (Our copy of The Salmon Princess is in our trailer, which Justin just pulled out of town for work on Friday! Otherwise it would be featured in this post as well.) 
This re-telling of the classic Sleeping Beauty features the King & Queen of a King Salmon Fishery. The queen meets a talking salmon who informs her that her daughter will be born. When Alyeska is born the kingdom holds a birth celebration...there is an evil twist & it is announced that someday Alyeska will choke on a salmon bone & die! Thanks to a prince who wears Carhartts, Alyeska & the entire kingdom is saved from their eternal slumber. 
We can not get enough of this book! I think I have read it a dozen times in the last 2 weeks alone. While the story is truly wonderful Mindy Dwyer's illustrations are some of the most captivating & beautiful ones that I have ever seen in a children's book. 
If you are looking to read a fairy tale that isn't entirely encompassed by Disney this is such a splendid book! I highly recommend The Salmon Princess as well! 

I hope you have all enjoyed this post & that you have found a new book or a few to share with your little readers this summer! If you would like me to do some posts on our other non-Alaska themed books in our collection please let me know. Also, check out my YouTube channel (Link) for a video all about these books as well! 

Below you will find a list/links for the authors/illustrators of these wonderful books! 

Shelley Gill (Link
Shelley Gill has written at least a dozen wonderful Alaska themed children's books & I want to add each one to our kid's collection! 

Amy Murrell-Haunold (Link)
Cindy Pendleton (Link)
I hope that these sisters are working on another book as we love the 2 we already have & I can't wait for another one to read with the kids. 

Pat Chamberlin-Calamar (Link)
Ballad of the Wild Bear is another book by Pat Chamberlin-Calamar & I hope to find it in stock somewhere soon.

Shannon Cartwright (Link)
Shannon Cartwright has illustrated so many books! All of the books on that link are ones that I hope to someday have for the kids as well. :) 

Claudia Lively & Holly Olsen (Link)
Elizabeth Hissem (Link)
There is another Vole Family book that I had no idea about! Plus the website as coloring pages & other amazing goodies for kids. (Link)

Debbie S. Miller (Link)
Debbie S. Miller has a couple of other books featured on her site that I didn't even know about until I wrote this post! 

Patrick J. Endres (Link)

Mindy Dwyer (Link)
Mindy Dwyer has written & illustrated many other children's books, I can't wait to find a few more to read with the kids this summer.