Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature
NAME OF BOOK: Alice Meets Inupiat Eskimos
AUTHOR: Sara Budinger Peterson
ILLUSTRATOR: Mary Bee Kaufman
YEAR BOOK WAS PUBLISHED: 2000
IS THE BOOK PART OF A SERIES (DESCRIBE)? Yes
WHAT IS THE SETTING OF THE BOOK (TIME AND PLACE)? 1946, Homer,
The author came to Alaska in 1966, traveled all over the state,
and currently lives in Homer. The illustrator also lives in Homer.
The author's main source for this book was an Inupiat friend she met
at UAA. She also references a favorite book about the Inupiats,
Pioneer Missionary to the Bering Strait Eskimos. The author
also researched the Homer Homesteader newspaper for historical
This book is part of a series, the first book was entitled
Alice, an Alaskan Pioneer, followed by Alice Meets Inupiat
Eskimos and still to come, The Journey of Perm.The main
character is Alice, a five year old girl. She lives with her mother
and father on a homestead near Homer. Her mother teaches school and
her father is a pilot. The book includes information on various
homesteaders and activities in the Homer area. Alice's father is also
in a plane crash, but all winds up well.
While at school, Alice meets and befriends an Inupiat girl,
Hattie. The title of this book is misleading, as only one four-page
chapter really deals with the Inupiat family. The Inupiat family also
lives on a homestead with a Swedish family and a non-native adopted
grandmother. The author does try to include some Inupiat words from
the Teller area, and an explanation of English and Inupiat names, but
there is no information on the traditional Inupiat culture or any
other indigenous natives from the Homer area. The standard of success
is all taken from the western point of view with the emphasis on
going to school for the children and even the Inupiat mother's desire
to get a high school diploma.
The book does include good historical references to the Pilgrim
airplane used in the area in the 1940's and provides some insight on
what it was like to live in the Homer area as a homesteader. However,
one wonders about the title and why Anna, the Inupiat mother, moved
from Nome to Homer with a missionary/teacher family. The author says
that her next book, The Journey of Perm, will tell the story
of Perm who walked across Alaska to join his true love.
The reading level of this book is approximately upper middle
school/junior high. Although this book may provide good historical
information on what it was like to homestead in Homer, I would not
recommend it for any type of indigenous study.
The book reviews are a result of students enrolling in special topics course
Ed 493 Examining Alaska Children's Literature taught by Esther A. Ilutsik
in the Spring of 2004.
The book reviews are written by the students and are a reflection of their
own analysis of the books and have not been altered in any way. The reviewers
have given permission to share the book reviews on the HAIL website.