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Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

Title: Ice Dogs
Author: Terry Lynn Johnson
Publisher: HMH Kids
Pub. Date: February 4, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 10+

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When 14-year-old dogsled racer Victoria sets out for her neighbor's with a small team of dogs, her biggest concern is making it back home before her mom realizes she's gone. Things take an unexpected turn when she happens upon a snowmobile accident and a dazed boy she doesn't recognize. With the snowmobile out of the equation, Victoria must make sure the boy gets back home safely. With instructions from the boy, she sets of in search of his house. Before long Victoria realizes that they're heading further and further into the wilderness and, by the time the boy admits he might not know the woods as well as he implied, Victoria, the boy, and her dogs are stranded with night and frigid temperatures quickly approaching. Things get even more complicated - and deadly - when their map is lost and the small amount of food Victoria packed is quickly consumed, leaving Victoria with little more than her wits to rely on if the group is going to survive the fierce Alaskan wilderness.

I can't stress how much I appreciate ICE DOGS. Growing up in northern Michigan with a passion for reading, I never tired of books about kids surviving on their own in the wilderness. Books by Gary Paulsen and Jean Craighead George were on constant check-out from the library and, for years, my favorite animal was the Peregrine falcon because of the bird's central role in Craighead George's MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. I'm confident that if I would have read ICE DOGS as a kid, Victoria would have been my new role model and the Siberian Husky my favorite animal. There are simply not enough books within this subgenre that feature a female protagonist. Victoria is a smart, capable, and compassionate character in an action-packed, high stakes adventure and young readers will love her.

Not only is this survival story utterly captivating from an entertainment standpoint, I was surprised by how much I learned about survival and dog sledding. I'm not saying I could go out and survive like Victoria did if I somehow found myself lost in even the forest behind my house, but I have a whole new level of respect for dog sledding and nature. Johnson doesn't oversimplify or patronize her audience, she treats them with respect and successfully engages readers with a real-life intensity.


  1. I grew up in the cold as well, so this should definitely be a great read! Plus I absolutely LOVE books about dogs! Thanks so much for sharing Sara...this sounds like a FABULOUS read...I'll definitely have to check it out! Thanks for sharing and amazing review! :D

  2. If you love dog books, I think you'll really enjoy this one, Zoe!

  3. I think the fact that it's been so horribly cold here in Michigan this winter made ICE DOGS particularly easy for me to relate to! ha

  4. What was your purpose of writing the book


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