CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 7 . . . . November 30, 2001
The Iditarod race has always fascinated, amazed and astounded me. This 1150 mile race from Anchorage to Nome Alaska, by a team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher, takes place over 10 to 17 days. I am in awe of the courage, resourcefulness, and knowledge of Mother Nature the drivers of these dog teams possess, and of the fortitude and training of the dogs that pull the sleds. I was looking forward to reading this picture book about a topic that has long captured my imagination and sense of adventure.
The story is about a team of dogs lead by Bomo and Johnny and Rhonda, two children who drive the team. On the way to Nome, Johnny and Rhonda stop over night and eat beef snacks with their dogs. The next day along the trail, the children realize they have left the snacks at their camp. They decide they cannot break their promise to the dogs, and they race back, get the snacks and manage to win the race.
I am not sure what this book is about and therefore find it difficult to comment on it. It may be a fantasy about the Iditarod, or, as the subtitle suggests, "A story of friendship and promises along the Iditarod Trail," or a book that takes lightly the challenges of this severe test of human and animal endurance. Or, judging from the dedication, "To all the breedless Bomos whose names have never become known, and to those in particular who have made their final home at the Matanusk-Susitna Borough Animal Shelter, Palmer, Alaska, United States," it could be a book celebrating the animals who run this race.
As you can see from the sample text, the writing style is trite, and the sentence structure laborious, and as you can also see from the last line of the sample text, there appears to be a word missing, "This a pact and we will not break it." The plot is confusing. The children and the dogs are lost in storms and follow wind-blown moonbeams through the forest. Then they hurry down a rope to get back to the trail.
The illustrations are rudimentary but not without charm. They were drawn in pencil on vellum and colourized by Chrissie Whysotski.
There are many other books on the Iditarod that offer a more direct approach to the subject. I wanted to like this book but found it lacking.
Ruth McMahon worked as a professional children's librarian for 13 years and is currently co-chairing Alberta's Rocky Mountain Book Award. She has long been fascinated by the Iditarod and has coveted the t-shirt she found in Alaska that reads, "Alaska, where men are men and women win the Iditarod."
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.