Bo at Ballard Creek: A Book Review


Bo at Ballard Creek

Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Summary: It’s the 1920s, and Bo was headed for an Alaska orphanage when she won the hearts of two tough gold miners who set out to raise her, enthusiastically helped by all the kind people of the nearby Eskimo village. Bo learns Eskimo along with English, helps in the cookshack, learns to polka, and rides along with Big Annie and her dog team. There’s always some kind of excitement: Bo sees her first airplane, has a run-in with a bear, and meets a mysterious lost little boy. Here is an unforgettable story of a little girl growing up in the exhilarating time after the big Alaska gold rushes.

{kindly taken from Goodreads}

My Thoughts: Every once in a while, I like to take a break from my standard YA novels and read elementary or middle school geared reads instead. Such was the case with Bo at Ballard Creek. If it weren’t already for the adorable cover that made me pick it up, I definitely would have gravitated towards this one due to the synopsis. Doesn’t it just scream a cozy winter read to you?! After finishing it, I can say that it was just what it looks like – a cute book! I can’t say that it was entirely memorable, but it was just what I needed after finishing my recent heavy romance.

Bo is a little girl who was headed for the orphanage when she caught the eyes of two miners, Jack and Arvid. They take her in and raise Bo as their own. The two teach her the ways of Ballard Creek, a small Alaskan village that is still deep in the time of the gold rush. This book instantly made me think of The Little House on the Prairie series, which I truly did not like as a kid. I tried, but it didn’t interest my elementary school mind :) Now that I am older and reading different genres of books, I think I could tolerate them more, but that is beside the point. What made me think of these two similarly is that they both explore the in and outs of everyday life. Each chapter explained something new about Bo and her neighbors’ way of life, which I found incredibly interesting. This is clearly a book meant for kids, but any reader will learn a ton of information about the Alaskan gold rush period. Who knew? Even though the text is fact-rich, the story never felt “bogged down.” I think this is in part due to the simpler text and dialogue. I had to keep reminded myself that this wasn’t a young adult book, so the shorter sentences and less sophisticated language worked for the intended audience.

The characters made my heart melt. I loved Bo so much. She was such a cutie, and all of the adventures she had were quite fun to read about. Her papas, as she called them, Arvid and Jack, were favorites of mine as well. I liked seeing how they all grew as a family, but I also enjoyed seeing how Bo treated her neighbors as family as well. The small village atmosphere is one that I haven’t read about in a while, so it was refreshing to see such a close bunch of characters. One thing I would have loved to seen is a tie between all of the people. Some pretty awesome ones only appeared for one chapter, so I wish they popped up again later in the book. Nevertheless, the main characters were solid and entertaining to read about, so I can’t really ask for much more.

Finally, my only other *teeny* complaint is that some chapters felt rushed. Just a bit more elaboration would have taken the book an extra level, but again, the story is already strong as it is. Bo at Ballard Creek was adorable, and I think both the intended readers and nostalgic teens and adults will take great pleasure in it.

Pros: Strong main character and a good balance between facts and the story.

Cons: Some of the characters deserved more development, and a few of the chapters felt rushed.

Heads Up: Some language, but nothing huge; I think it was used in an accurate context with how the miners spoke.

Overall: I give it 4 stars {****} and I recommend it for ages 7-8 and up.

Have a lovely night!



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