Reading of the North

The Snow Child

By Eowyn Ivey (Reagan Arthur Books, $24.99)

The blurb: This novel tells the story of a struggling couple living in Alaska in 1920 who discover a young girl running in the woods. They adopt her as their daughter, then discover her startling secret.

Excerpt: "Mabel nervously eyed the trail across the snow as she returned from the outhouse. Never before had a fox come so close to their cabin. She knew they were small creatures, but all the same they frightened her. She stepped over the tracks, but then their smooth, oblong shape caught her eye. They weren't animal tracks at all. Each was a perfect print of the sole of a small boot. She brought her head up and with her eyes followed the trail back to the snow child she and Jack had built the night before. It was gone.

"She hurried into the cabin breathless.

" 'Jack? Someone's ruined our snow child. Someone's been in our yard.'

"He was at the counter, sharpening his pocketknife on a steel.

" 'I know.'

" 'I thought you said it was a fox.'

" 'There are fox tracks, too, in the woods.'

" 'But those out there?'

" 'A child's.'

" 'How can you know?'

" 'The size of the tracks. And I'm pretty sure I saw her. Last night. Running through the trees.' "

Breaking Ice for Arctic Oil: The Epic Voyage of the SS Manhattan Through the Northwest Passage

By Ross Coen (University of Alaska Press, $24.95)

The blurb: A profile on the SS Manhattan's 1969 journey, which was intended to demonstrate the impracticality of moving Alaska crude oil using ice-breaking ships.

Excerpt: "Humble convened a conference in Washington, DC, in September 1968, where dozens of scientists, academics, naval specialists, and military officials, all with expertise in the Arctic, assembled to listen to the company's pitch. Haas opened the conference with an ambitious statement of purpose: 'We hope to build a ship that will be able to sail year-round through the Northwest Passage.' Standing before a roomful of bemused smiles, he then described the concept in more detail. Humble proposed to construct an ice breaking tanker weighing 250,000 deadweight tons with an engine room capable of 100,000 horsepower. Such a vessel would be the largest of its kind in history. If the test vessel demonstrated both the technical and economic feasibility of an arctic transportation system, (Stanley B.) Haas stated, Humble would follow with an entire fleet of tankers of comparable size and power."

-- Compiled by Marlaina Ross, Daily News correspondent