Bo at Ballard Creek

Bo’s family is not the usual, ordinary sort of family because she didn’t get it in the usual, ordinary way.

She was headed for a lonely Alaska orphanage when she won the hearts of two tough gold miners who set out to raise her, enthusiastically helped by the other miners, the good-time girls, and all the kind people of the nearby Eskimo village on the Koyukuk River.

Bo learns Eskimo along with Engllsh, is involved in the lives of her friends at Ballard Creek, helps in the cookshack, learns to polka, and rides along with Big Annie and her dog team. And there’s always some kind of excitement: an airplane landing, the first bulldozer, a roaming bear, the dog-team mail delivery, and a mysterious lost little boy.

This is the unforgettable story of a little girl growing up in the exhilarating time after the big Alaska gold rushes.

Cover image of Bo at Ballard Creek

Click here to read about the making of this book.

“The 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Kirkpatrick Hill for Bo at Ballard Creek, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, a division of the Macmillan Children’s Book Group.”


  1. #1 by Kathryn Poulter on December 18, 2013 - 3:37 pm

    Dear Ms. Hill,
    As the children’s librarian in the town of Pocatello, Idaho, it is with pleasure that I am writing to inform you that you have been selected to receive the coveted and prestigious Pocatellecott Award for your work on the beautiful book: Bo at Ballard Creek.

    Every year, we choose one or more outstanding examples of children’s books to receive this award. As we make our selections well in advance of the ALA children’s book awards, it is exciting to see that the books we choose are also sometimes the ones the committees select. However, whether or not the recipients of the Pocatellecott award receive recognition on a grander scale or not, we feel the books we choose are superlative examples of art, writing, and beauty for children. Your wonderful book fits all those criteria!

    We love the way little Bo jumps out of the pages and becomes a real person in our minds. Her childlike insights and adventures are endearing and realistic. I especially liked the charming details you added to make Bo come alive, such as the description on page 191, “They were so jittery and restless that Milo threatened to throw them out in the snow if they didn’t settle down. They wouldn’t take their parkas off because they wanted to be able to run out the door without waiting a minute.” I can just see the little children squirming and anxious to see the Cat come into town! Now all of us at the library want to move up to Ballard Creek (I guess we’d have to go back in time) and meet Bo and the rest of the settlers. Thank you for the time, effort, talent and careful preparation that went into your book. It is indeed worthy of this award.

    Although the award, unfortunately, has no cash prize associated with it, you will receive a lovely, frameable certificate. I could not find any email address nor physical address on your website. So will you please let me know the address where you would like me to mail the award? You may contact me at Once again, congratulations for writing such a beautiful book and winning this prestigious honor. We wish you all the best in your continuing work.

    Kathryn Poulter
    Marshall Public Library

  2. #2 by Maria Dixson on December 13, 2014 - 12:40 pm

    Ms Hill, I just finished Bo at Iditarod Creek after reading Bo at Ballard Creek. I work for Peggy Mullen, oldest daughter of a homesteading family in Soldotna & owner of River City Books also in Soldotna. I arrived in Alaska in Sept 2011, after retiring from a Library career in California & New York. I have been voraciously reading books about Alaska for all ages in order to be able to recommend titles to tourists and visitors to our bookstore. Your two books will be at the top of my list for both parents who like to read chapter books to their children as well anyone else who wants to read a wonderful story that is filled with history and day to day life during the mining days of Alaska. You have a true gift for sharing ideas, facial expressions, how things function and human interplay through your use of words. Thank you so much for these two wonderful books. I must admit, I hope there will be more titles to this series now that the family of five has moved to a new location. Should you ever find yourself in the Soldotna area, please stop into our bookstore and introduce yourself. Thank you for sharing your ideas with the world through books. Maria Dixson

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