Togo and Balto: The Dogs Who Saved a Town

Albert Whitman. (Animalographies). Apr. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780807503829.
Gr 1-3–The latest offering from “Animalographies” tells the story of Togo the sled dog. Togo was a mischievous puppy who grew to become the strong, smart lead in a team of sled dogs who transported various materials across Alaska during the early 1900s. However, Togo’s most important delivery was the serum to save people from diphtheria in 1925. The 20 teams of 150 dogs had to run 674 treacherous miles in less than a week, before the serum expired, and Togo led the first leg of the relay. The informational picture book is told from Togo’s perspective, in paragraph form with plenty of exclamation points, and includes little diary entries. Bright colorful illustrations fill the pages, and Togo’s big blue eyes (which are humanlike and a bit peculiar) set him apart from all the other characters. The thrilling story, nearly 100 years old, should strike a chord in today’s readers as memories of the COVID-19 vaccine are still fresh. While the title suggests that this is about Togo and Balto, it is undoubtedly Togo’s story, with Balto a side character. Togo acknowledges that Balto received more attention for finishing the journey, but it is finally his turn to shine. Although back matter shares dog sled commands and why Siberian huskies were used, there are no resources listed, limiting this book’s usefulness for reports.
VERDICT Purchase where “Animalographies” are in demand.

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