My Writing and Reading Life: Carole Estby Dagg, Author of Sweet Home Alaska
Carole Estby Dagg | The Children’s Book Review | February 11, 2016
Carole Estby Dagg also wrote the middle-grade historical novel The Year We Were Famous. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and has lived in Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia. She has degrees in sociology, library science, and accounting. Her real-life adventures include tiptoeing through King Tut’s tomb, sand boarding the dunes of western Australia, riding a camel among the Great Pyramids, paddling with Manta rays in Moorea, and smelling the penguins in the Falkland Islands. She is married with two children, two grandchildren, a husband, and a bossy cat who supervises her work. She splits her writing time between her study in Everett, Washington, and a converted woodshed on San Juan Island.
Latest published book…
… is Sweet Home Alaska, a middle grade historical novel which follows Terpsichore Johnson’s family from Wisconsin to, Alaska in one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. Terpsichore is excited for this chance to be a pioneer, just like her favorite author, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
You wrote it because…
I had never heard of the Palmer Colony until my son moved to Palmer. I was drawn into the period by the Palmer Library’s local history section that included memories of old-timers who had come up with the project and decided their experience had to become a book.
… was the day, just before Thanksgiving, 2013, when my agent, Steven Chudney, called to let me know Nancy Paulsen was interested in the book.
Your special place to write…
… is a converted woodshed on San Juan Island – sometimes the neighbor’s goats or deer visit me.
Necessary writing/creativity tool…
… is a stack of cheap composition notebooks from the drug store. I need to do a lot of random brainstorming and write a bunch of garbage before getting to anything worth taking to the computer.
… depends on where I am and what I’m looking for, but I’ll list a few:
Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska
Griffin Bay Book, in Friday Harbor
Village Books, in Bellingham
The University of Washington Bookstore in Seattle and Mill Creek
Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton, whose writing takes me back to the London blitz and – less far back – to what it was like to be sixteen years old and sure my life was meant to be more exciting than my parents.
All-time favorite children’s book you didn’t write…
… is Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series. Our family moved a lot with Dad’s job and Anne was a friend I could take with me wherever we went.
… is Katherine Patterson, for her range of writing, from historical fiction to gritty contemporary fiction, and her ability to explore human emotion. The fact that’s she’s won every award (sometimes several times) for children’s authors says I’m not alone in putting her on a pedestal.
Favorite illustrator is …
… is Garth Williams, who illustrated many of my favorite books from childhood and early days as a children’s librarian. His wrap-around covers for the Little House Books were like dioramas I could imagine myself into.
A literary character to vacation with…
… would be Dinah, Alice’s pet cat in Alice in Wonderland. My husband says it doesn’t matter where we go on vacation because all I do is read, anyway. And the perfect companion for an extended reading session is a cat.
Connect with Carole Estby Dagg …
Written by Carole Estby Dagg
Publisher’s Synopsis: This exciting pioneering story, based on actual events, introduces readers to a fascinating chapter in American history, when FDR set up a New Deal colony in Alaska to give loans and land to families struggling during the Great Depression.
Terpsichore can’t wait to follow in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s footsteps . . . now she just has to convince her mom. It’s 1934, and times are tough for their family. To make a fresh start, Terpsichore’s father signs up for President Roosevelt’s Palmer Colony project, uprooting them from Wisconsin to become pioneers in Alaska. Their new home is a bit of a shock—it’s a town still under construction in the middle of the wilderness, where the residents live in tents and share a community outhouse. But Terpsichore’s not about to let first impressions get in the way of this grand adventure. Tackling its many unique challenges with her can-do attitude, she starts making things happen to make Alaska seem more like home. Soon, she and her family are able to start settling in and enjoying their new surroundings—everyone except her mother, that is. So, in order to stay, Terpsichore hatches a plan to convince her that it’s a wonderful—and civilized—place to live . . . a plan that’s going to take all the love, energy, and Farmer Boy expertise Terpsichore can muster.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0399172038
Discover more books like Sweet Home Alaska, by Carole Estby Dagg, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with Laura Ingalls Wilder; and be sure to follow along with our Writing and Reading Life series.
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