So many kids asked for a sequel to The Year of Miss Agnes that I finally gave in and wrote one. But though there were several suggestions for a love interest for Miss Agnes-(Sam White?!)–Miss Agnes and the Ginger Tom has as its main theme The Bright Kid Story.
This selection of the best and brightest was often done by missionaries and doctors. It was almost epidemic in the early 1900s. Kids were sent Outside– that’s what Alaskans call the lower 48– because Alaska had no schools of quality and because there weren’t many schools which were for Indians or Eskimos. I’ve always been fascinated by these kids, trying to imagine what it was like for them to be snatched away from home and deposited in a completely different environment. Each kid had a different story and so it’s not sensible to generalize about their experiences, but it wasn’t all good by any means and sometimes it was dreadful.
Some of these kids were there for many years, so long that when they returned they’d little knowledge of their own culture, had lost their native language and sometimes felt alienated. My stepfather’s father was one of these kids who was deeply affected by his ignorance of his own culture when he returned to Alaska.
But I think Jimmy is going to turn out fine.