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
Author: Helen Moss; illustrated by Solomon Hughes
Published by Godwin Books/Macmillan, November 2023,
ISBN-13 : 978-1250792532
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.
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
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.
The historic sled dog “Serum Run” was undertaken to prevent a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska.
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. (afterword, source list, end notes) (Fictionalized nonfiction. 10-13) KIRKUS REVIEWS
Balto and Togo, by Helen Moss, is a delicate blend of fiction and history that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is an amazing piece of art. The story is set in Nome, a small community in Alaska. A diphtheria pandemic breaks out, and it’s up to Balto and Togo, along with the rest of the dogsledding team, to deliver the life-saving serum. Will they make it in time? This book is great for action readers and adventure seekers! —TIME FOR KIDS By TFK Kid Reporter Dylan Patel
Gr 3–7—Set in the winter of 1924, this illustrated middle
grade book is based on real events that took place during the diphtheria
outbreak in Alaska. To prevent infection from spreading, one million
units of antitoxin must be delivered as quickly as possible. But due to
weather, temperature, minimal road access, distance, and isolation, the
serum must travel by mushers and dogsleds. As they journey along the
trail, the teams face frostbite, black holes, and trips and tangles. The
details of the outbreak are shown through a variety of characters'
points of view. After a telegraph is sent out asking for help, a team of
huskies undertake a 600-mile round trip. Readers get to understand what
the dogs are seeing and thinking as the author includes narration and
dialogue from their perspectives. Additional viewpoints—from a sick
child, a nurse, the mayor—round out the characters and add drama to the
story. Footnotes on the bottom of several pages include detail about
word definitions. Back matter includes over 10 pages of notes, reference
material, and sources. VERDICT This well-researched adventure
book will be out just in time for the winter. Children who enjoy animal
adventure stories will love this book!—Tanya Boudreau, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL