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Culture Children's Books

Young heroines

Children’s Books

Young heroines

Stories of girls who overcome 

Sweet Home Alaska 

Carole Estby Dagg

At the height of the Depression, President Roosevelt’s New Deal program sent over 200 struggling families to the untamed wilderness of Palmer, Alaska, where they received 40 acres and the chance to become self-sufficient farmers. In Sweet Home Alaska, 11-year-old Terpsichore Johnson embraces her family’s new life with pluck and gusto—she had always dreamed about living like Laura Ingalls Wilder—but her mother is counting down the days until they can return to “civilization.” Determined to change her mother’s mind, Terpsichore hatches a plan that will require hard work, sacrifice, and a little help from her friends. (Ages 9 & up)

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming 

J. Anderson Coats

When 11-year-old Jane Deming’s father dies in the Civil War, she must quit school to watch her young stepbrother so her stepmother can work in the mills. Life begins to look more promising when they join an expedition bringing marriageable women to the fledgling Washington Territory—where bachelors and fresh starts abound. After things don’t turn out as advertised, Jane must come to terms once again with the unexpected life. As she struggles to overcome obstacles to getting an education, she discovers her blossoming potential and what it means to be a family—even an unlikely family. (Ages 12 & up)

The Orphan Band of Springdale 

Anne Nesbet

It’s 1941, the U.S. is on the verge of war, and 11-year-old Augusta Neubronner is bound for Maine to live with a grandmother she’s never met. Life in the small town isn’t easy for Augusta, who must overcome prejudice and injustice in an environment increasingly suspicious of foreigners. Her solace comes from playing her father’s French horn, but her desire to right wrongs will lead her to make great personal sacrifices. Themes of selflessness, identity, family, and determination undergird the story. Note: The plot, loosely based on the author’s family, includes discussion about the effects of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. (Ages 10-14)

In Grandma’s Attic 

Arleta Richardson

First published in the 1970s, In Grandma’s Attic possesses a timeless quality akin to the beloved Little House books. But unlike Laura Ingalls Wilder, who chronicled her personal life, Richardson recounts the stories she remembers her grandmother telling. Each stand-alone chapter highlights a memory and a life lesson learned as young Mabel navigates her way through often comical predicaments. With mentions of Christian faith interwoven throughout the stories, Richardson’s first four books in this series make excellent read-aloud selections for family time: Children will likely press their parents to read “just one more chapter.” (Ages 6-12)

(Gretchen Ellen Powers)


Last year Albert Whitman & Co. celebrated the 75th anniversary of The Boxcar Children with a special rerelease of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s beloved book. The hardcover anniversary edition features the original story with new watercolor illustrations sprinkled throughout. Longtime fans will be delighted with the extended afterword that includes a collection of historical photographs detailing Warner’s life and the history of the first Boxcar Children book.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Albert Whitman & Co. also released five new Boxcar Children titles that continue the story of the four Alden children. The Great Adventure miniseries finds the children tackling a multilayered mystery—one that has them traveling around the world as they help return lost and stolen artifacts to the museums and historic sites where they belong. Geared for readers new to chapter books, this series features plot updates that reflect our tech-savvy culture. —K.C.