Did you know that the biggest sled race in North America is going on right now? The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race runs from Willow to Nome, Alaska, and usually takes eight to fifteen days, depending on weather conditions. Racers encounter everything from blizzards to gale force winds to sub-zero temperatures on their journey. The race started in 1973, so this year is the 45th anniversary.
There are plenty of books that feature dogs, but not as many that feature sled dogs, and even fewer that feature the actual Iditarod. For this Five Book Featuring…segment, we’re sticking to books with sled dogs. Unless we took the picture books by Robert J. Blake or nonfiction titles on the Iditarod Trail, or biographies of Gary Paulsen into account, we wouldn’t have enough fictional titles on just the Iditarod Trail for this list.
In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.
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Gardiner, John. Stone Fox
There’s just no stopping little Willy. Determined to keep their farm going — and to give his ailing grandfather a reason to live — the ten-year-old boy hitches his dog Searchlight to the plow and harvests the whole potato crop. Now little Willy needs five hundred dollars to pay off ten years’ back taxes, or the farm will be taken away from them. Dauntless as ever, he stakes everything on one wild hope: that he and Searchlight can outrun the best dogsled racers in the country — including the legendary Indian, Stone Fox. But the huge mountain man is every bit as intent on winning the big prize money as little Willy is. And he and his five beautiful Samoyeds haven’t lost a race yet….
Johnson, Terry Lynn. Sled Dog School
Matt is struggling in school and he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade. But what is he even good at? The only thing he truly loves is his team of dogs, and so Matt’s Sled Dog School is born. Teaching dogsledding should be easy, right?
But people, just like dogs, can be unpredictable. And sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is admit they need help. By progressing through his difficulties, Matt gains new perspective, confidence, and skills including their real-life applications as well as new friendships. From contending with school bullies to increasingly learning to value his family and their off-the-grid lifestyle, Matt and his friends learn about overcoming adversity, finding your strengths, and following your passions.
Mowat, Farley. Lost in the Barrens
Two boys lost in the wilderness of Northern Canada must fight for survival. Awasin and Jamie, brothers in courage, meet a challenge many mountain men could not endure. When their canoe is destroyed by the fury of the rapids, they must face the wilderness with no food and no hope of rescue. To survive, they build an igloo, battle a towering grizzly bear, track several wolves, slaughter caribou for food and clothing. Just when they’re about to give up, two lost sled dogs show up. Both boys enjoy the companionship and have a brilliant idea. Can they tame the dogs enough to make a way home from their dangerous adventure?
Paulsen, Gary. Dogsong
Russel Susskit is disillusioned by the changes to his Eskimo village: the smell of diesel oil in the morning, the sound of snowmobiles scaring the seals away. In need of guidance, he turns to the oldest member of his village. The elderly man understands Russel’s desire for the old ways and sets him on a powerful vision quest to learn the songs that celebrated them. Russel must venture north by dogsled, dressed only in deer skins and armed with a simple bow and lance. Alone, gliding along the icy landscape, miles away from civilization, Russel hopes to discover his own song.
Shahan, Sherry. Ice Island
What begins as a training run with sled dogs turns into a race against time for Tatum and her new friend, a Siberian Yupik boy named Cole. When a freak blizzard hits this remote island off the coast of Alaska, the duo seeks shelter overnight in a dilapidated hunting cabin. Their harrowing ordeal goes from bad to worse when wind-driven snow forces them to risk an alternate route. Stranded in the untamed wilderness, they must rely on each other–as well as their faithful huskies–to survive sub-zero temperatures and bone-numbing exhaustion. Worse still, their food supply is dangerously low. When Cole’s sled is damaged and half of their dogs can no longer pull, the teens make the tough choice to separate: Tatum and a team of dogs set off to seek help. Will the two make it back home?
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And there you have it–five books that will make you want to run out into the snow tomorrow (because of course there’s snow coming tomorrow!) and start hitching up your dog to a sled to mush down the driveway!
Oh well. Still, if you’re interested in the Iditarod Trail, sled racing, sled dogs or survival in the wilderness (which all of these also seem to feature) then you’ll love all of these titles. Read one or two and find out while you’re waiting to see which musher comes out on top in this year’s race.
Remember, if you need help finding one of these books, or any other book, ask one of our librarians. We’re always happy to help you find the right book!