NEW: Balto and Togo

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!

Find out more and read an extract on the Macmillan website.

Balto and Togo: Hero Dogs of Alaska

"True to life and compellingly dramatic." KIRKUS REVIEWS
" . . . a delicate blend of fiction and history that will keep you on the edge of your seat." 

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 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.


The historic sled dog “Serum Run” was undertaken to prevent a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, 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. (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