Alaska on the page

Books released in 2011 include Nicklin's whales and Stokes' verse

Notable Alaska books published in the past year include Juneau author Ernestine Hayes’ “Aanka Xóodzi ka Aasgutu Xóodzi Shkalneegi,” a children’s book published in Tlingit and in English, and Barrow author Debby Dahl Edwardson’s “My Name is Not Easy,” a finalist for the National Book Award in the young people’s literature category.


Here’s a look at some other titles released in 2011. (This list is not intended to be exhaustive.)


Southeast authors


“Juneau Seasons” by Richard Stokes. Local poet and Gastineau Guiding naturalist Stokes follows up last year’s work, “Notes Searching for a Tune,” with a new collection of poems.

“Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends from Chukotka and Alaska,” by Alexander Dolitsky, illustrated by Tamara Semenova and Leigh Rust. Dolitsky, director of the Alaska Siberia Research Center in Juneau, has compiled traditional stories from Russia and Alaska, adding two original tales written in the same spirit. Bilingual, in Russian and English.

“Half Ton of Trouble” by James Kohn. Kohn, former director of the Alaska Pioneers Home program, weaves stories from elderly Juneau pioneers with his own tales from the present.

“Raven Created the World” by Richard Folta. Haines-based author Folta has written a story inspired by the cultural struggles experienced by Alaska Natives.



“Faith of Cranes: Finding Hope and Family in Alaska” by Hank Lentfer. Lentfer’s memoir shares stories of his home and community in Gustavus.

“Life by the Lynn” by Christie Loney. Loney’s book traces episodes in the Loneys’ lives as caretakers of the Shrine of St Therese, from 1988-1996.

“Dog Days, Raven Nights,” by John and Colleen Marzluff, illustrated by Evon Zerbetz. Zerbetz, of Ketchikan, illustrated this personal account of a couple’s adventures raising sled dogs and pursuing an in-depth study of ravens.

“Be Brave, Be Strong,” by Jill Homer. In this book, former Juneau Empire employee Homer describes the emotional and physical challenges of the famous Tour Divide bike race.



“Among Giants: A Life with Whales” by Charles “Flip” Nicklin with K. M. Kostyal. “Among Giants” tells the story of Nicklin’s life and career through both text and images. Juneau-based photographer Nicklin, who has had a long association with the National Geographic Society, is one of the founders of Whale Trust, a nonprofit conservation and research group.

“When Sarah Palin Came to Town” by Tony Newman, aka “TOE.” Local cartoonist TOE has compiled a a chronological look at Palin’s political career, focusing on the effect she had on Juneau and its residents.



Real Alaskan magazine, by Jeff Brown. This is the second installment of Brown’s satirical publication exploring what it means to be Alaskan; this work garnered him a first-place award from the Alaska Press Club this year.



“Aanka Xóodzi ka Aasgutu Xóodzi Shkalneegi, The Story of the Town Bear and the Forest Bear” by Ernestine Hayes, illustrated by Wanda Culp, translated by Ethel Makinen and Roby Littlefield. Hayes’ book, the first of its kind, was published in both Tlingit and English-language versions for children and adults. The classic story explores the dangers of giving up something we love for the promise of an easy life.

“Patsy Ann of Alaska: The True Story of a Dog” illustrated by Jim Fowler and written by Tricia Brown. Local painter Fowler created 30 acrylic paintings for the book about Juneau’s most famous canine, dubbed the “Official Greeter of Juneau,” by the Juneau mayor in 1934, and immortalized in a bronze statue on the Juneau docks.



“Digital Community, Digital Citizen” by Jason B. Ohler. In his latest book, Juneau-based author and professor Ohler explores the intersection of technology, community and education, pointing the way toward a more complete integration of students’ digital and nondigital lives.


Outside Southeast


“Caribou Island” by David Vann. Set in the Kenai Peninsula at the onset of winter, Vann’s book tells a dark tale of the unraveling of a marriage. Vann, who has received international acclaim for his works, read from the book in October at the Juneau Public Library.

“Ice Floe II: International Poetry of the Far North” edited by Shannon Gramse and Sarah Kirk. “Ice Floe II,” the second volume in a series, features new works of poetry from established and emerging Northern writers — from Alaska, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Iceland, and beyond — including Tom Sexton, Riina Katajavuori, Yuri Vaella, Gunnar Randversson and many others.

“I Think Again of Those Ancient Chinese Poets” by Tom Sexton. This new collection by former Alaska poet laureate Sexton blends his life in Maine, his years in Alaska and his love of Chinese poetry.

“A Spell on the Water” by Marjorie Kowalski Cole. Cole, who lived in Fairbanks for more than three decades before her death in 2009, based her story on a family of six who run a rundown resort in the Michigan northwoods. By the end of the book, two members of the family have followed their dreams to Alaska.

“Though Not Dead: A Kate Shugak Novel” by Dana Stabenow. In “Though Not Dead,” Stabenow’s 18th Kate Shugak book, the fiery heroine embarks on a treasure hunt that spans generations of family secrets and miles of open Alaska country.

“Marked” by Paula Johnson. Partially set in Sitka as well as other Alaskan cities, Johnson’s story tells of a girl whose family relocates to Nome as part of a witness protection program.

“The Mountains Bow Down (A Raleigh Harmon Novel)” by Sibella Giorello. Local readers might appreciate the Juneau scenes in “The Mountains Bow Down,” a mystery that unfolds aboard an Alaskan cruise ship headed up the Inside Passage. Author Giorello, a fourth-generation Alaskan, is the granddaughter of Belle Goldstein Simpson, who was born in Juneau in 1885.



“Bering Sea Blues: A Crabber’s Tale of Fear in the Icy North” by Joe Upton. Upton’s memoir shares his experiences working in the Bering Sea’s king crab fishery.

“Hooked!: True Stories of Obsession, Death, and Love from Alaska’s Commercial Fishing Men and Women” by Leslie Leyland Fields. Sea stories collected here include near-death battles, tragedies of lives lost to the waters and the thrills of fishing for winter crab, as well as cod, salmon, halibut, and herring.



“The Klondike” by Zach Worton (graphic novel). Cartoonist Worton tells the historic story of the Klondike through a graphic novel, depicting such characters as George Carmack and Robert Henderson, con artist Soapy Smith, Belinda Mulrooney and “Skookum Jim” Mason against the backdrop of the Canadian wilderness.

“Inside Passage” by Mattias Breiter. Biologist and photographer Breiter’s photographs of the region are accompanied by descriptive text that touches on the area’s history and his own experiences.

“To the Arctic” by Florian Schulz. Nature photographer Florian Schulz leads readers to the Arctic, where she traces the region’s rich ecosystem over the course of a calendar year.

“My Wrangell Mountains” by Ruedi Homberger with original art by Jon Van Zyle. Swiss photographer Homberger has captured nearly 300 images of the Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park and Preserve in his first book-length collection. His work is accompanied here by a selection of sketches by illustrator Jon Van Zyle.

“Archie: Obama & Palin in Riverdale” by Alex Simmons. Simmons presents two of the most polarizing figures in modern American politics through an Archie comic, while emphasizing the importance of cooperation, civility and friendship.

“The Spirit of Alaska” by Jimmy Tohill. Healy-based photographer and river guide Tohill has compiled both photographs and poems in this work.



“Lucy’s Dance” by Deb Vanasse, illustrated by Nancy E. Slagle. “Lucy’s Dance” tells the story of a little girl who is determined to help her grandfather demonstrate traditional Yup’ik dancing in her village. The book was published in both Yup’ik and English language versions.

“Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska’s WWII Invasion” by Samantha Seiple. This young adult nonfiction book describes how the Japanese invaded and occupied the Aleutian Islands in Alaska during World War II.

“My name is not easy” by Debby Dahl Edwardson. Barrow author Debby Dahl Edwardson’s story centers on Native Alaskan teens shipped off to a Catholic boarding school, where they find an unexpected way to survive.



“Alaska Native Education: Views from Within” and “Sharing Our Pathways: Native Perspectives on Education in Alaska” edited by Ray Barnhardt and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley. Both works explore the cross-cultural intersection between Native Alaskan knowledge and western systems of education, with an emphasis on moving forward with the benefit of both. The men were jointly honored with a 2011 Governor’s Award for the Humanities for their work; Kawagley died earlier this year at 76.

“Qaluyaarmiuni Nunamtenek Qanemciput (Our Nelson Island Stories): Meanings of Place on the Bering Sea Coast” edited by Ann Fienup-Riordan, translated by Alice Rearden. Nelson Island elders describe hundreds of traditionally important places in the landscape, from village sites to ocean channels, contextualizing them through stories of how people interacted with them in the past and continue to know them today. Bilingual.

“Conflicting Landscapes: American schooling/Alaska Natives” by Clifton Bates & Michael J. Oleksa. This illustrated work presents a wide-ranging picture of the schooling of Alaska Native children from past to present, and offers proposals for improving the overall health of Alaska Natives.

“Imam Cimiucia: Our Changing Sea” by Anne Salomon, Nick Tanape Sr. and Henry Huntington. “Imam Cimiucia” explores the ecological, social, and economic causes of coastal ecosystem change on the Kenai Peninsula.

“Ahtna Travel Narratives: A Demonstration of shared geographic knowledge among Alaska Athabascans” Transcribed and edited by James Karl, told by Jim McKinley, Frank Stickwan, Jake Tansy, Katie John and Adam Sanford. A collection of indigenous travel narratives that represent walking tours comprising more than 1,000 miles of traditional routes and trails in the Ahtna language area. The book’s ethnographic, linguistic and historical information is supplemented by maps, photos and interviews.

“Comparative Eskimo Dictionary: With Aleut Cognates” second edition, Michael Fortescue, Steven Jacobson and Lawrence Kaplan. This updated edition groups related words from the modern Eskimo languages in comparative sets with their english equivalents, covering 10 dialects — including five Inuit dialect groups, four Yupik languages, and Sirenikski.

“Gwich’in Athabascan Implements: History, Manufacture, and Usage According to
Reverend David Salmon” by Thomas A. O’Brien.
This collaboration between anthropologist Thomas O’Brien and Athabascan elder David Salmon reproduces historically important tools through 40 one-to-one sketches.



“Finding Mars” by Ned Rozell. Science writer Ned Rozell, of the Geophysical Institute and Alaska Science Forum, weaves science, travel and adventure as he relates his journey in accompanying permafrost researcher Kenji Yoshikawa on a 750-mile trek by snowmobile through the Alaska wilderness.

“The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960” by Douglas Brinkley. “The Quiet World” documents the fight waged by the federal government to save Alaska’s wild places -- including Mount McKinley, the Tongass and Chugach National Forests, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Lake Clark, and the Coastal Plain of the Beaufort Sea -- from extraction industries.

“North by 2020: Perspectives on Alaska’s Changing Social-Ecological Systems” edited by Amy Lauren Lovecraft and Hajo Eicken. Originating from a series of workshops held at the Alaska Forum of the Fourth International Polar Year, this book addresses current concerns regarding the ecology and rapid transformation of the Arctic.

“The Melting Edge: Alaska at the Frontier of Climate Change” by Michael Collier. Collier explores the impact of climate change on Alaska’s people, landscape and wildlife, focusing in particular on the activities of the people who live with the effects of those changes day to day.

“Tongass National Forest: Temperate Rainforest in Transition” by Andromeda Romano-Lax. Romano-Lax takes readers on a tour of the varied layers of the Tongass, the nation’s largest forest, moving from the many elements of change at work to the ecological characterizations of rainforest-groundstory, middle story, and overstory.

“The Early Years: The Journals of Richard L. Proenneke 1967-1973” edited by John Branson. The second volume of the journals of Richard L. Proenneke, covering Proenneke’s move to Twin Lakes, an area which later became the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

“The Archaeology of North Pacific Fisheries” edited by Madonna L. Moss and Aubrey Cannon. Covering Alaska, British Columbia and the Puget Sound, this book illustrates how the archaeological record reveals new information about ancient ways of life and the histories of key species, including salmon, pacific cod, herring, rockfish, eulachon and hake.

“Salmon, Desserts & Friends” by Ladonna Gunderson. Gunderson lays out more than 52 recipes for preparing salmon.

“Salmon Patties and Rosehip Pie Cookbook: Art, Food and the Coastal Life in Halibut Cove, Alaska” by Marian T. Beck, edited by Kathy Howard. This cookbook features 60 recipes from The Saltry Restaurant in Halibut Cove, as well as 30 of Beck’s paintings.



“Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in Alaska,” by Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger. In “Crude Awakening,” Coyne and Hopfinger chart a tale of Big Oil money and corruption.

“White House of the North: Stories from the Alaska Governor’s Mansion” by Carol Murkowski Sturgulewski. In researching this book, Sturgulewski interviewed governors, first ladies and friends from every administration since 1958. The text is supplemented by more than 70 historic photos and documents dating back to the 1890s.

“The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin” by Joe McGinniss. McGinniss, who famously moved next door to Sarah Palin in spring 2010 to gather research for this book, offers readers a personal study of of Alaska’s former governor.

“The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush” by Howard Blum. Blum’s Gold Rush tale focuses on a true-life mystery: The theft of a fortune in gold bars from the Treadwell Mine in Juneau.

“Aviation Mysteries of the North” by Gregory Liefer. This book features a compilation of historically significant mysteries and large capacity aircraft lost over a span of four decades.

“Sunken Klondike Gold: How a Lost Fortune Inspired an Ambitious Effort to Raise the S.S. Islander” by Leonard Delano. Delano’s book describes a two-year struggle to salvage the Canadian Pacific’s steamer the SS Islander, which sank 12 miles from Juneau in 1901 with a rumored $3 million in gold on board.

“The Clara Nevada: Gold, Greed, Murder and Alaska’s Inside Passage” by Steven Levi. Alaska historian Levi pieces together the true account of the Clara Nevada, a steamer that sank in Lynn Canal in 1898, in an attempt to solve the riddle of the lost steamer and its priceless cargo.



Editor’s note: This list was compiled with help from Hearthside Books’ Katrina Pearson as well as online catalogs from the University of Alaska Press, Sasquatch Books, Alaska Geographic and Epicenter Press. For additions, contact Amy Fletcher at





  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback