Reading the North

September 10, 2011 

Halibut Cove

By Carline Bouilhet (Strategic Book Group, $17.50)

The blurb: After art expert Rayne McCloud's latest project is completely ruined, she returns traumatized to her childhood holiday home in Alaska. There, she witnesses the murder of the second mate of the Petro Valdez.

Excerpt: "Rayne woke up disoriented and short of breath. Her rib cage was sore, and her pelvic bone felt as if it were pushed forward by an enormous weight. It took her a few seconds to realize that she was lying on her stomach staring down at the uneven linoleum tiles that carpeted the floor of her hospital room. While it would explain her crushed ribs and sore back, she wondered why she had fallen asleep in a position so foreign to her, and she attempted to sit up, turning around slowly. As she did so, she recognized the same warm voice she had met a few hours before for the very first time, in what now seemed like another dimension.

" 'How are you feeling this morning?' asked the sympathetic voice once more."

'A' Is for Alaska: Teacher to the Territory

By Naomi Gaede-Penner (Tate Publishing, $21.99)

The blurb: The non-fiction book tells the story of Anna Bortel, largely in her own words, about moving from Ohio to Valdez in 1954. The young school teacher eventually found her way farther north in the small Athabascan village of Tanana.

Excerpt: "Snow swirled around our school campus of five army Quonset huts until it resembled an igloo encampment, In fact, by November, the snowfall equaled the previous year's total accumulations and visions of Valdez's record-setting depths danced in my head. Piles of snow provided excellent insulation around the huts, but plummeting temperatures meant an ongoing battle to keep our fickle oil stoves operating.

"One evening, my two young co-teachers, Herman Romer and Harriet Amundson, and I welcomed the invitation to see nature films at the Public Health Hospital, which was one of the few diversions in this small Yukon River village of 300 people. Herman, a youthful looking Eskimo and Harriet, a hardy Minnesota girl, rowdily gathered their outdoor gear for the short walk in the minus 43 degrees dark night and begged me to hurry with my preparations. They'd completely forgotten our stove vigil, which was the outcome of inadequately designed narrow, three-quarter inch copper tubing which carried the oil from the outdoor tanks into the huts and to the stoves. With these polar temperatures, the oil would thicken and eventually slog to a stop. The stoves would shut down. We'd be doomed."

Larry Gets Lost in Alaska

By Michael Mullin and John Skewes, illustrated by John Skewes (Sasquatch Books, $16.99)

The blurb: Part of a series of children's books in which lovable pup Larry serves as tour guide, in this installment, Larry takes a cruise along the Inside Passage, sneaks on a plane to Kodiak and must find his way across the state to reunite with his owner.

Excerpt: "The fishing boat gave him

"A welcome ride

"To a port, and a ship with a

"Hole in its side.

"A serious bird looked down

"From his perch,

"But offered no help on

"Larry's search.

"Meanwhile, Mom and Dad and Pete

"Found a park with log cabins lining the street.

"Close by was an interesting kind of town

"That looked like Christmas all year round.

"They searched for Larry high and low

"They boarded a train, as it started to snow."

-- Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News

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