An Alaskan Fairy Tale

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An Alaskan Fairy Tale

A Reading List for Arena Stage's "Snow Child"

Theater based on great literature is always exciting, and if it’s musical theater, even better. Arena Stage’s current production of Snow Child is a musical based on Eowyn Ivey’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel. The play draws on current musical theater trends as well as Alaskan traditional music to bring Ivey’s story to life on the stage. Suggested by staff at Arena, here are some other books and resources to add to your appreciation of the play.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The first place to start is with Ivey’s original novel The Snow Child. Set in Alaska in the 1920’s, the story focuses on the childless couple Jack and Mabel as they try to make a life and a marriage in the brutal Alaskan setting in which they find themselves. The book takes a fairy tale turn, and like any good fairy tale, it shines a light on basic truths about marriage and family.

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
Ivey’s second novel explores much of the same territory as The Snow Child. This story takes us on a journey with a newly married couple who must deal with the uncertainty and excitement of a  new pregnancy as well as a opportunity for the husband to help explore the new territory of Alaska. Again, Ivey’s writing shows us a marriage against the backdrop of the Alaskan landscape.

Alaska: A Novel by James A. Michener
Famous for writing epic novels of place and history through the lives of human lives, Michener’s take on Alaska runs from the early indigenous people of the region to the moment when Alaska was on the verge of becoming a U.S. state. Unlike The Snow Child, the scope is panoramic, but still highlights the ways that marriages and families survive in a new and wild place.

Coming into the Country by John McPhee
Coming into the Country is a journalistic approach to Alaska and its history. Written by the celebrated New Yorker journalist John McPhee, the book segues between various pockets of Alaska and shows the ways that Alaskans live in both the wild as well as urban spaces. This is one of McPhee’s classics and most read books!

Snow Child audience members may be curious to learn more about the roots music and musical theater in the show. The library's streaming music platform Freegal is an expansive resource for learning about music. Have your library card ready.