CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 2 . . . . September 17, 1999
The next day, as we headed toward Dawson City, we drove down into a valley. There, TD and I looked out on a pale, frozen forest: the trees nearest the road were covered in hoarfrost. Bill told me that hoarfrost was caused by exhaust from passing cars and trucks. Exhaust is made partly of tiny water drops that usually disappear in the air. But in this valley, where the temperatures were bone-chilling and the air was extremely still, the water droplets hung around the trees and froze into a thick coating of crystals. It was so cold here that I could feel a chill inside the cab, even with the heater running.What happens if people who live in Canada's far north can't get to the grocery store? The grocery store comes to them! In an eighteen-wheeler loaded with enough groceries and produce to last 500 people an entire month, Andy Turnbull, trucker Bill Rutherford and a poodle named TD embark on a 5000 mile round trip from Vancouver to Tuktoyaktuk. This book reads almost like a daily journal, documenting the trials and tribulations of a journey which most truckers would not even attempt. The harsh Arctic climate, with its strong winds and extreme cold as well as the hazardous road conditions, make the ride, at times, a white-knuckle adventure. En route, Andy and Bill often find themselves in dangerous predicaments - a moose suddenly darts across the road; huge boulders, remnants of a recent rock slide, block their path; white-out conditions limit visibility; and, most frightening of all, ice highways, roads laid out over the frozen Mackenzie River and the Beaufort sea, threaten to give way as the heavy truck makes its way northward. Turnbull gives readers a glimpse into the world of a trucker, devoting several pages to the workings of a large rig and describing its maintenance as well as taking readers inside for a closer look. Sidebars offer interesting anecdotes and fascinating facts about the history, geography and people of the far north. The text, written from Turnbull's point of view, is easy to read and engages the reader. It moves along at a fairly quick pace.
Bright, crisp colour photographs aid in documenting the journey. There are also several sepia-toned photos depicting the Klondike Gold Rush and the early history of the area. Many of the nine chapters include cartoon-like maps which trace the route and highlight important landmarks.
An index and a list of internet resources are provided. These websites, which contain information about timber wolves, northern lights, life in the Inuvik region and the Northwest Territories, have special sections for kids.
A fascinating look at Canada's remote northland from a very different and unique perspective.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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