________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 12 . . . .February 18, 2005


A Team Like No Other. (Northern Lights Books for Children).

Georgia Graham.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2004.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-88995-290-6.

Subject Headings:
Dogsledding-Juvenile fiction.
Dogs-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

**** /4



Dad whistled and Stephen threw open the gate. One, two, three, four dogs shot out. Then Dad helped five, six and seven into their boxes on the back of the truck.

"Come on, Skoki," called Dad. "We can't have a team with only seven dogs. We need eight."

But the big dog paused a the gate until Stephen wrapped his arms around her neck and snuggled his cheek into her. "You're the best dog ever," he whispered into Skoki's plush fur. Then away she darted into her box.

Dad closed the door on the dog boxes and opened a smaller door in the centre of each one. The huskies poked out their grinning faces.

Dad drove until great jagged mountains towered all around. Stephen wishes he was riding in the dog box with Skoki, the Chinook wind in their faces.

Dad steered the heavy load up the last stretch of winding icy road. When the truck stopped, the huskies yelped with excitement.

Dad unloaded the sled and anchored it to the truck. He attached each dog's harness to the main cable until all eight huskies were howling and lunging forward.

Stephen grabbed the bucket of dog treats and jumped into the sled. Once Dad set his feet on the back runners, Stephen looked up and nodded.

Dad released the anchor.

"Mush," shouted Stephen—and they were off.


Many will already be familiar with Georgia Graham's work as the illustrator of Bibi and the Bull and Tiger's New Cowboy Boots. In A Team Like No Other, Georgia is the author as well. She's created a very tight story of a boy out sledding with his father in Southern Alberta. What first impresses the reader about the book is how in so few words Georgia Graham is able to convey the thrill and excitement of the ride through the eyes of Stephen. When Stephen's father is knocked off the sled by a fallen log, the danger is palpable. It is up to Stephen and lead dog Skoki to stop the sled before they go over the cliff.

     If the narrative is understated, the illustrations are not. Graham's realistic depictions of the big sky and mountains of Southern Alberta, done in her trademark chalk pastel and chalk pencils, are breathtaking. Each double spread is rich with detail, whether it is in the huskies, the fear in Stephen's face or in the spectacular double spread done as though from Stephen's vantage point on the runaway sled. The story also quietly deals with the subtext of the special relationship between a boy and his dog, the "team like no other."

     Georgia Graham has created a wonderful story that will be read and re-read—a perfect addition to home or school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Liz Greenaway has worked as a bookseller and now resides in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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