Badger History Bulletin - Review
North to Iron Country
By Janie Lynn Panagopoulos. (River Road Publications, Spring Lake, MI, 1996. Illustrations. ISBN 0-938682-407, hardcover $14.95. 184 pages.
Originally published in BHB Volume 3, Number 2
Another Dream-Quest Adventure, North to Iron Country, provides an engaging combination of accurate historical events and factual information with a young person's adventure. History comes alive for young readers when a present-day boy is seemingly transported back in time to the early iron mining era. The story is rich in culture with colorful characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds. A touch of the supernatural adds to its high-interest reading.
From snow days to pasties, there is much to learn about and identify with the north country throughout this book. There is a map in the front of the book of the region included within the story. Selected terms are in bold print and can be found in the "Iron Ore-tory" glossary. Poetry is used in more than one place to enrich the text.
It's fun to hear the characters speak with their homeland accents, using expressions that are interesting and humorous. Michael Shane speaks of sled dogs: "They are like children. They don't want ta stay still, even when it's time ta rest."
Being of the north, less than an hour from Ironwood, Michigan, I was particularly amused that a character (who happened to be a teacher), when referring to the meat and potato pie called a "pasty" (short a), quoted the old saying, The Cornish brought them. The Norwegians made them, and the Italians perfected them.
(Oh yes, I have Italian blood in me too.)
This book lends itself generously to map activities, comparisons to actual historic events, and language study, including the abundance of figurative language that fourth graders are able to identify and appreciate. Writing or speaking activities using dialects would be another story extension.
Other Dream-Quest Adventures have been used in my class for read-alongs that emphasize tracking. Daily chapter readings are followed by lively discussions of characters and events, modeling and teaching various reading comprehension strategies. This one could be a good introduction or integral part of the study of mining history in Wisconsin.
Lake Superior Intermediate School