Ice Dogs

288p. Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547899268.
Gr 5–8—Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old dog musher, has been struggling in the year since her father died. Her relationship with her mother is falling apart and her best source of comfort is the dog team that once belonged to her father. While out on a run with the animals, she finds and rescues an injured city boy, but after getting lost in a blizzard they both need rescuing. With the survival skills she learned from her father, Victoria must lead them all to safety. Written by a musher, this book is full of detailed descriptions of dog sledding and far northern survival. At times the technical details are more fully fleshed out than the character development, but they are never so complex as to break the flow of the story. Fast-paced plotting and suspense-filled writing will push readers along as the characters journey from dangerous disasters to lucky breaks. The high-stakes adventure and episodic nature of the chapters will make this book an easy sell for reluctant readers. Even in an arctic setting that can feel as foreign as a distant planet, Johnson keeps a sense of realism in this enjoyable adventure tale.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Fourteen-year-old musher Victoria Secord is in training for the White Wolf Classic sled race. Alone in the wilderness with only basic supplies and a skeleton dog team, she comes upon a boy who has crashed his snowmobile; when she tries to take him home, they get lost. Thus begins a top-notch survival story as the two deal with a blizzard and more.
Distraught over her trapper father's death the previous year, fourteen-year-old musher Victoria Secord honors his memory, and her own passion, by devoting all her time to her Alaskan sled dogs and training for the upcoming White Wolf Classic race. Her single-minded determination isolates her from her mother and best friend. When her mom refuses to drive to a rival kennel so Vicky can buy a few extra dogs for her team, she puts together some basic supplies and a skeleton dog crew and sets off alone on the thirty-five-mile wilderness trek. On the trail she comes upon a bleeding and disoriented boy--a newcomer from Toronto named Chris--who has crashed his snowmobile into a tree; when she tries to take him home, they get lost. Thus begins a top-notch survival story as for five days the two deal with a blizzard, freezing temperatures, a burnt map, a lost compass, a charging moose, injuries to the dogs, hunger, and hypothermia. Debut novelist Johnson links character to setting by showing how Vicky uses her knowledge of the land and copes with the elements, creates shelter, and snares animals in order to survive. But she must also depend on Chris's friendship, a convincing decision that releases her from her self-imposed loneliness and creates a believable denouement. betty carter

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