Peaches on Ice, a guest post by Erin Soderberg Downing
Twenty years ago, I spent a night sleeping deep inside a hotel made entirely of ice. As someone with a lot of anxiety and some claustrophobia issues and far too many complaints about cold weather, this vacation was an odd choice. But I also love adventure and doing strange things, so when my brand-new-at-the-time husband suggested we take a trip to the north of Sweden and spend the night in a hotel that melts back into the nearby river every spring, I said: Why not??
I’ll admit: it was really, really cool. And yes, also very cold—when you spend a night inside Sweden’s Icehotel, you sleep on a frozen block of ice, inside a giant freezer. But here’s something you might not know about visiting the Icehotel—when you check in for your special night, they outfit you with a snazzy, weather-appropriate snow suit and gear, and they have everything all set up so that you can actually strip down to long undies when it comes time to slip inside your polar-explorer-grade sleeping bag at night. They cover the ice-slab beds in reindeer hides for comfort and warmth, and do everything in their control to suit you up for success. It’s actually quite amazing.
That was a once-in-a-lifetime trip (now that I’m a much older adult, with even more anxiety to cope with, there’s NO WAY I’d ever step foot inside a building made of frozen water, let alone SLEEP in a frozen chamber), so I’ve been saving this once-in-a-lifetime setting for the just-right book ever since—I absolutely love using things I’ve done and places I’ve visited to create more realistic stories for my readers. Before I’d even finished writing the first adventure in The Great Peach Experiment series, I already knew the Peach family would be the perfect people to send to Sweden for a similar fun experiment at the Icehotel…in this case, a frozen family “business trip” where they have a chance to learn some stuff about running their B&B from one of the best tourist hotels in the world!
The best part about writing FROZEN PEACHES was, hands down, the research I got to do. In addition to drawing inspiration from that long-ago trip to the very real Icehotel in Sweden, I also took the opportunity to do some other unique frozen research. In this third Peach adventure, animal-loving Herb gets the chance to learn how to dogsled and care for a group of sled dogs. Because I knew nothing about dogsledding when I was writing my way into the first draft, I knew I had to learn some stuff about it if I wanted to capture those scenes correctly. I also had to find out if kids would actually be allowed to lead a team of sled dogs on their own, without an adult in control.
As it turned out, the guide who took my family and I out on our dogsledding adventure last winter let my kids each drive a team of dogs on their own—and made me ride with the “teacher,” because they’ve learned during their research that adults usually aren’t as good at listening to directions as kids. During our family dogsledding adventure, I learned that kids can certainly lead a team of dogs on their own…and I also learned that our guide made the right choice to make me stick close to her. I got a little too excited about all the dogs and puppies and forgot to listen to all the parts of our “Sled Talk,” which meant I was a little mixed up and terrified when we set out into the great wide world with our teams of dogs!
Even though I don’t expect to visit the real Icehotel again during my lifetime, I did love revisiting such a magical place with a family I love so dearly—8-year-old Herb, 11-year-old Freddy, 12-year-old Lucy, 40-something dad Walter, and their very fun (age-withheld) Great Aunt Lucinda—while they get a chance to experiment with dogsledding, ice carving, frozen theater, snowperson-building, cooking frozen dishes, and spending quality time together in a fictionalized version one of the world’s most magical settings. To me, this is one of the best parts of writing and reading stories—getting a chance to visit some wonderful places on earth, even (maybe especially?) if it is from the comfort of my own snuggly bed.
Meet the author
Erin Soderberg Downing is the author of The Great Peach Experiment series, Controlled Burn (a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection), and the forthcoming Just Keep Walking (February 2024). Erin loves reading, swimming, baking, exploring the woods, traveling with her family, and walking around Minneapolis lakes with her fluffy and mischievous dogs, Wally and Nutmeg. More information can be found at www.erinsoderberg.com.
About The Great Peach Experiment 3: Frozen Peaches
A frozen family “business trip” to Sweden’s Ice Hotel sets the Peaches on a new grand adventure.
The third book in The Great Peach Experiment, great for fans of The Penderwicks and The Vanderbeekers.
Cashing in on his family’s recent good-luck streak, ten-year-old Freddy Peach has been entering his family in a bunch of sweepstakes, but he doesn’t really expect to win. And then he does—a free family trip to the Ice Hotel in Sweden!
Since the Peaches are now the proud owners of their own bed-and-breakfast, they decide they can’t pass up on the opportunity. It’s research. They’ll learn more about what it takes to operate a successful hotel from one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world.
But what the Peaches don’t know is that five families from five frozen locations have been brought together to compete for the honor of frozen best. They’ll face-off in a series of challenges from dog sled racing to ice carving to an ice-cold cook out. But when the going gets tough, the Peaches have always come together in the past? Why should this time be any different?
The third book in the Great Peach Experiment series, Frozen Peaches is a sweet treat, mixing humor, adventure, warmth (despite the cold) and a lot of heart to make another great book readers will be delighted to devour.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
Publisher: Pixel + Ink
Publication date: 04/04/2023
Series: The Great Peach Experiment #3
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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