Do Alaskans Live in Igloos?

Oct 13, 2002
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:simple yet colorful illustrations, resolves a myth for children

Cons:style of "narrator" may seem a bit naive

The Bottom Line: This story solves an Alaskan myth for children in an uncomplicated and inviting way.


Do Alaskans Live in Igloos? Well, do they? What is the first thought that comes to mind when you see that question? Of course they do. Maybe not all of them, but certainly some of them do. Don’t most people automatically assume that somewhere in Alaska, there are igloo homes or villages? I hate to burst your bubble, but according to this book that’s not the case at all.

Do Alaskans Live in Igloos? - Show Me Your Alaska Home has a prologue of sorts that explains the “story” behind the story. The narrator tells of being a child enthralled with a photograph of a man standing near several igloos. This child’s mother, who has never been to Alaska herself, enlightens him (or her) as to the “fact” that the picture was taken in Alaska, a state that is covered in snow and ice--which is what makes the igloos necessary as homes. That child grows up with an ever-present curiosity about Alaska and its igloos. When an opportunity arises to visit, it’s taken immediate advantage of. And so the actual story begins. . .

The narrator starts right out speaking about the view from the plane. . . the greens of the forests, browns of the mountains, and the areas covered with snow and ice. Those have to be where the igloos are!

Anchorage is the first city visited, but all hopes of a city made entirely of igloos are dashed when it proves to be built of nothing more unordinary than the same type of homes and buildings as any other U.S. state. Why? Were the igloos torn down to make room for these more modern facilities? Ah well, maybe in the country, or toward the mountains, or on the mountains themselves.

Sorry, Mr. Narrator, but it’s not going to happen. Although the reader, via the narrator’s findings, does learn what people in each of those regions do live in--whether they are residents, gold miners, or mountain climbers. There are even surprise lessons on playhouse-looking “caches” and outhouses. What. . . no plumbing?!?

Well, somebody must know something that can be helpful. Oh. . .a ranger station! Showing the photograph to the friendly Ranger Theresa seemed to be a good idea. According to her, the picture is of an Eskimo man and must have been taken in the northernmost parts of Alaska. . . there may be igloos there. . . or not.

Mr. Narrator learned quite a bit about Eskimos on the way up north, but the discovery of an Eskimos’ summer fishing camp still produces no igloos! Once again, the picture is shown, and one of the kind Eskimo women explained that it must be of a Canadian igloo village. At one time, the Canadian Eskimos lived in igloos, but the Alaskan Eskimos never did. . . there were ample resources to provide other forms of building materials.

Well, what do you know? Alaskans don’t live in igloos after all. At least Mr. Narrator got to travel the state and discover how beautiful it is!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bernd and Susan Richter have authored several books related to life in Alaska, each informational to the young reader in its own way. Rather than overwhelm young minds with all kinds of data on Alaska at once, they break things up into different categories to make learning about this particular state uncomplicated and, hopefully, more fun.

Granted, an adult will find that the writing in Do Alaskans Live in Igloos? - Show Me your Alaska Home takes a rather naive approach to searching for igloos. This, however, shows that the authors are not talking down to the children they are writing for. In fact, wouldn’t these be the very thoughts that might go through one’s head if they truly believed (as many people do) that igloos can be found in Alaska?

The illustrations are also done by Bernd Richter, and they are simple yet colorful. The pictures are similar to what you may find in the doodle pad of a fifth or sixth grade student. This, however, does not bring down the level of enjoyment. In actuality, it may make it more appealing to the intended audience of 5-11 year old children. Rather than being struck by the sheer detail of more skillful looking illustrations, they can take pleasure in the simplicity and even extract indirect encouragement that they themselves could draw that way also.

An interesting point to note is that the text and the illustrations are each unmarred by interruption from the other. All pages on the left-hand side are full of text, whereas all pages on the right-hand side are fully illustrated. There is one exception to this rule, and that is the presence of a “thought bubble” on each of the pages of text. When the narrator is imagining the igloo he hopes to see at each destination, there is an igloo in the bubble. Once he arrives, though, and the text is explaining what really exists in lieu of igloos, the bubble is empty.

If this book sounds like something you or your child would enjoy, or if you have already read it, you may want to check out one of the other books by Bernd and Susan Richter. . .

How Alaska Got Its Flag

Peek-a-Boo Alaska
(ages 0-3)

Uncover Alaska’s Wonders

When Grandma and Grandpa Visited Alaska They. . .

When Grandma Visited Alaska She. . .

When Grandpa Visited Alaska He. . .

Alaskan Animals - Where Do They Go at 40 Below?


Just remember now. . .if you are planning a trip to Alaska to find igloos, you’re going the wrong way!

~/~Happy Reading!~/~











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