Five Books Featuring…Dog Sled Racing!

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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stone foxGardiner, 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 Schoolsled 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 Barrenslost 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.  Dogsongdogsong
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 Islandice 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!

Happy Reading!


Booklist: Great Dog Covers!

Great Dog Covers!

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, right? Except that sometimes…the cover has so much personality that you just have to! Here is a booklist of some adventurous, some serious, and some hilarious dog books for kids in fourth through sixth grades which all have one thing in common—great cover photos of dogs!

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Behrens, Andy.  The Fast and the Furriest
Kevin’s looking forward to spending his summer doing as little as possible. But when his beagle Cromwell sees a dog-agility competition on TV, he begins acting very, VERY strangely; jumping through hoops, running non-stop, and dragging Kevin to the nearest obstacle course. Kevin is soon on a mission to help his crazy dog reach his dreams. Go, Team Cromwell!

Corriveau, Art. How I, Nicky Flynn Finally Get a Life (and a Dog)
Nicky Flynn is starting a new life, in a new city. His mom has brought home Reggie, a German shepherd from the animal shelter, who used to be a seeing-eye dog. At first Nick isn’t sure about this canine intrusion; soon, however, Nick is on the path to finding out why a seeing-eye dog would be left at an animal shelter, and along the way discovers that Reggie is a true friend that Nick can rely on. But when he tries to reconnect with his dad, Nick puts everything on the line, including the life of his new best friend.

Doyle, Roddy.  Wilderness
While Tom and Johnny are on a husky safari to Finland, their half-sister Grainne is about to meet the mother she hasn’t seen in years. The boys think every minute in the wilderness is a thrill, until their mother doesn’t make it back to the lodge one night. The boys realize that she’s lost in the vast frozen north. While Grainne tries to weather the reunion with her mother, her half-brothers set out to rescue their mother. Will the siblings survive to see each other again?

Duncan, Lois.  Hotel for Dogs
The Walkers are moving to a new town, and staying with an aunt who’s allergic to dogs. Too bad for Andi and her brother Bruce, who love dogs — and happen to meet a stray that needs help. Soon, Andi hatches a plan, turning the abandoned house down the block into a hotel for dogs. But as more and more tenants move in, the secret gets too big to keep. Can the kids save their canine castle? Or will the hotel have to close? Also try News for Dogs and Movie for Dogs.

Fields, Bryan.  Lunchbox and the Aliens
Lunchbox is your average basset hound: round, floppy, and not too bright . . . until he’s abducted by aliens. The hapless aliens who abducted Lunchbox have set him the task of converting Earth’s trash into froonga, a food adored by aliens and dogs alike. Will Lunchbox and his boy, Nate, solve the world’s garbage crisis and form the first interplanetary alliance? Or will the fate of the whole solar system come to rest on whether Lunchbox can ever learn to catch a Frisbee?

Hobbs, Valerie.  Sheep
As he passes through a series of owners and names, a border collie puppy finds both kindness and cruelty, and even love. Finally, he saves the life of a lost orphan boy, bonds with him, and helps find a family for them both.The story of a dog who finds a place to belong in the tradition of Shiloh, Lassie Come Home, and Hurry Home, Candy.

Kennedy, Marlane.  The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes
Rain or shine, hot or cold, poor St. Bernard Beauregard is left in the backyard. No one ever plays with him or checks his food and water bowls, and even Charlotte, who doesn’t like dogs, can tell he’s sad. So she makes sure he has water, gives him belly rubs—blech!—and feeds him every single day. But it’s kind of a pain, and she knows Beauregard deserves better. Charlotte has an idea. Now all she needs is a plan. Maybe a lot of plans.  How do you rescue your own dog?

Korman, Gordon.  Swindle
After a mean collector cons him out of his most valuable baseball card, Griffin Bing puts together a band of misfits to break into his compound and recapture the card. There are many things standing in their way — a menacing guard dog, a high-tech security system, a very secret hiding place, and their inability to drive — but Griffin and his team are going to get back what’s rightfully his!  Also try Zoobreak and Framed.

Lee, Ingrid.  Dog Lost
Mackenzie has got one friend in the whole world: Cash, the pit bull puppy that his father won and, surprisingly, gave him. But when his father dumps Cash in the middle of nowhere, Mac vows to find her and bring her back home.  Little does he know that while he searches for Cash, she’s surviving her own adventures looking for him and proving in the process that all dogs–even pit bulls–are born good.

Margolis, Leslie.  Boys are Dogs
Annabelle’s all-girls elementary was very different from Birchwood Middle School where boys run through the halls like wild animals. But with a little experimenting, Annabelle realizes that like her new puppy, maybe boys can be trained too. With Annabelle’s hilarious take on friendship, boys, and her all-new life, this survival guide perfectly captures the joy and agony of middle school. And it might just teach you how to tame the wildest beasts of all—boys!

Nuzum, K. A.  The Leanin’ Dog
More than anything, Dessa Dean needed a friend—a friend who she could confide in, a friend who could share her heart. Hope was about to wear out, when there came a scratching at the door and Dessa Dean’s life was forever changed. This is the story of a girl, a dog, and the friendship that saves them both.


O’Connor, Barbara.  How to Steal a Dog
Georgina Hayes is desperate. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, she’s stuck looking after her younger brother. When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is “borrow” the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected.

Selfors, Suzanne.  Smells Like Dog
When his uncle disappears, Homer inherits two things: a lazy, droopy dog with no sense of smell, and a mystery.  Homer, his sister Gwendolyn, and Dog are soon on an adventure that will test their wits and courage as they head into a world where ruthless treasure hunters hide around every corner; where they discover that Dog has a hidden talent and that treasure might be closer than they ever imagined.

Spearman, Andy.  Barry, Boyhound
One night, Barry turns into a boyhound. Not a hound, but a boyhound; while he may still look like a boy, he is, in fact, a dog. And even in his boyhound brain, Barry knows there are lots of advantages to being a dog. No cleaning your room or using dental floss, for example. But things get crazy. He eats something too disgusting to mention. He’s attacked by telepathic squirrels. An innocent squashed frog gets involved. Plus, his mother’s pretty mad. And that’s all before the really bad thing happens. . . .

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How can you resist those faces?  Read one today, and let me know what you think!  And if you come across any other great covers or titles, I’m always on the lookout for more.