My first foray into creative non-fiction, Hero Dogs of Alaska is a retelling of the events of Winter 1924-5, when a relay of sled dog teams sprang into action to deliver life-saving diptheria serum to the remote Alaskan town of Nome.
Balto and Togo are the best-known canine characters, but I've included many other lesser known dogs and their mushers too, emphasising the importance of team-work at all levels.
This is a story that has fascinated me since first hearing it, and then including it as part of the fictional adventures of the time-travelling pack in my previous book Time Dogs: Balto and the Great Race, so I was thrilled and honoured to be invited to re-tell the story - closely based on the true story, but imagined through the eyes of the hero dogs - and humans - involved. This book became even more of a labour of love as most of the writing took place during the COVID lock-downs of 2020 and 2021, when saving lives from a deadly pandemic couldn't have been more relevant.
For readers of 9-12 years - or anyone who loves adventure, dogs, and true stories that are even more amazing than fiction.
Make sure to snuggle up warm with a mug of hot chocolate to read this book - the dramatic, atmospheric illustrations by Solomon Hughes will transport you to the frozen wilderness!
Balto and Togo: Hero Dogs of Alaska
"True to life and compellingly dramatic" KIRKUS REVIEWS
Author: Helen Moss; illustrated by Solomon Hughes
Published by Godwin Books/Macmillan, November 2023,
ISBN-13 : 978-1250792532
The blurb . . .
It's the winter of 1924 and a diptheria outbreak is threatening the
population of Nome, Alaska. The only way to stop the deadly illness from
causing a full blown epidemic is to immediately deliver one million
units of the diptheria antitoxin to the affected communities ––a task
that seems impossible given that the only way to reach any place in
Alaska at this time of year is by dog sled. The stakes are high, and the
snow is piling higher. Will the antitoxin make it in time? Or will the
infection spread faster than they can treat it...
Follow along as Balto and Togo lead the way in this race against time to get the antitoxin and save lives.
You may not find the book in UK bookshops as it is only being published in the US (for now!) but you can order - or even better, pre-order it here at Blackwells on-line or on Amazon as a hardback or Kindle edition.
Reviews for Balto and Togo: Hero Dogs of Alaska
Inventing minor details as needed to construct a seamless narrative while sticking closely to participants’ memoirs and other documentary evidence, Moss recounts each leg of the nearly 700-mile relay—capturing both its urgency and the serious dangers faced by the 19 teams of dogs and men who undertook it. Exerting authorial license around a claim that the “malamute chorus,” a sort of canine news and social network that even worked over long distances, was a real Alaska thing, she tells the tale from doggy as well as human points of view by weaving in engaging exchanges of canine banter: “I can feel it in my bones—we’re headed for Norton Bay. I know that Togo here loves the sea ice, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies.” Still, nearly every member of the cast, two- or four-legged, was real, as were the extreme cold, severe winds, blinding snow fog, and other obstacles faced by the tough dogs and rugged-looking, fur-clad men in Hughes’ stark black-and-white illustrations. The disease claimed one child identified as Inupiaq/Norwegian, and one musher was part Athabascan; otherwise the human cast reads as white.
True to life and compellingly dramatic.
There are some lovely comments from early readers here on GoodReads too.
Like this one . . .
"All-in-all just a really great piece of writing blending fact to tell a story in a way that makes it flow like fiction. A really great addition to any classroom or school library!"
And this . . .
"This book is so well researched and then written
from the perspective of not only the humans but what the dogs might
have thought during this as well. "
Thank you, lovely reviewers! Comments like these make all the hard work absolutely worthwhile!