Monday, September 1, 2008

North to Alaska...

... and then home to Vermont. My husband and I were fortunate enough to spend the past two weeks in our 49th state. While there, I learned a lot about the native cultures and enjoyed spectacular scenery. The photo of the totem pole at the right was taken at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage ( ). Did you know that many totem poles tell stories and family histories? Early missionaries to the region discouraged the carving of totem poles and even burned existing ones because they thought they were a form of pagan worship. Instead, they are a medium for artistic expression with something to say. This particular one celebrates the act of handing down family stories and folktales from one generation to the next.

With your own stories in mind, you can help your child make his/her own totem pole by using a paper towel tube. Directions can be found at

Learn more about totem poles at any of these websites:

While in Anchorage, we visited the statue of Balto (pictured at left). Balto was the leader of the sled dog team that made the final leg of the diphtheria serum run from Anchorage to Nome that saved the lives of many children. This 1925 event is commemorated each year by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. You can read all about it in the book Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. There is another statue of this dog hero at Central Park in New York City.

Other books of interest that are in our collection include:
Akiak : a Tale from the Iditarod by Robert J. Blake
Iditarod Dream by Ted Wood
Woodsong by Gary Paulsen
Kiana's Iditarod by Shelley Gill
Carving a Totem Pole by Vickie Jensen
A Child's Alaska by Claire Rudolph Murphy
Alaska by Donna Walsh Shepherd
The Hungry Giant of the Tundra by Teri Sloat
Arctic Memories by Normee Ekoomiak
Song of the North by Frank Asch
Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights by Debbie S. Miller