Book Review by Aarene Storms: Ice Dogs

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

14-year-old champion musher Victoria Secord has always loved racing her sled dogs through the Alaskan bush ... and, after her dad dies in a trail accident, the sport is Victoria's lasting connection to him. He taught her how to be independent, self-reliant, and an expert at surviving in the wilderness. But when she and her dogs encounter first an injured "city boy" and later a blizzard, Victoria's skills are put to the ultimate test: life and death.

This fast-paced adventure, written by an experienced musher, features lots of stuff I like in a book: realistic action, suspense, and a convincing touch of romance between the two main characters. The events are entirely plausible, and Victoria's response to them makes sense. Her relationship with her dogs is wonderful -- she knows them as individuals, and identifies their strengths within the team. Plus, she is a smart, awesome protagonist in a sport that is mostly dominated by men. Victoria doesn't dwell on her "minority" status, but she acknowledges that being a girl (and not a very large one) gives her both advantages and disadvantages in competition, and she is smart enough to use whatever edge it takes to win ... and to survive.

With two modern main characters, this book may appeal more broadly than Gary Paulsen's Dogsong, which also tells the story of a dogsled journey. Pair Ice Dogs with Julie of the Wolves and Hatchet for lovers of survival fiction.

Highly recommended for readers ages 10 to adult.  

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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