Waters Like the Sky

“Waters Like the Sky,” a short adventure novel written by the late Agnes Peloquin Rajala, a lifetime resident of Itasca County, with her daughter Nikki Rajala, of Rockville, Minn., was awarded the Jeanette Fair Book Award by Delta Kappa Gamma Society, Tau State (Minnesota), April 18 at their state convention in Bemidji. Delta Kappa Gamma is an honorary organization of professional women educators.

“As a former teacher, Mom would be highly honored to receive this award from other teachers,” Nikki said. “She enjoyed finding ways of making history come alive, both as a teacher and later as a curator for the Itasca County Historical Museum. This book enlivens the voyageur era, which is also part of our family heritage.”

Released in September 2014, “Waters Like the Sky” was also nominated in the fiction category for the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, by UM-Duluth, Duluth Public Library and Lake Superior Writers. The NEMBA awards, given for books that substantially represent the area’s history, culture, heritage or lifestyle, will be announced May 21.

The Rajalas are direct descendants of voyageurs, explorers and fur traders who lived as winterers in the land west of Lake Superior, before it became Minnesota.

About the book:

Historically accurate, “Waters Like the Sky” is Book 1 of The Chronicles of an Unlikely Voyageur series. It tells the story of young André, a boy from French Canada in 1801 who’s bullied for still attending school. Though André’s education caused his taunting, his literacy skills help him secure a spot in a voyageur canoe brigade and then as a clerk at a winter trading post where he can search for his brother.

Suitable for all ages, “Waters Like the Sky” speaks of adventures and the value of family and education. It follows the journey of the voyageurs, French-Canadians who embarked on the fur trade and brought tons of goods by canoe across the Great Lakes and northern waterways into the area that will become Minnesota, where the goods were traded for beaver and other furs. “Waters Like the Sky,” the first of a four-book series, is available at the Itasca County Historical Society Museum, the Forest History Center and Village Books, all of Grand Rapids.

About the authors:

One inspiration for the story comes from their own family tree, which includes voyageurs, fur traders and explorers for over 100 years. Agnes’ great-grandfather was the last voyageur in his family line.

Agnes taught elementary grades in Itasca County, first in rural one-room schools and later in Cohasset and Grand Rapids. Later she became a curator at the Itasca County Historical Society.

Nikki, a retired teacher of English as a Second Language for St. Cloud, Minn., Area Schools, District 742, is also the author of “Some Like it Hot: The Sauna, its Lore and Stories,” a nonfiction book that draws from her Finnish ancestry. To learn more about Rajala and “Waters Like the Sky,” visit www.nikkirajala.com.

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