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The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Book and CD)    by Natalie Standiford & Donald Cook order for
Bravest Dog Ever
by Natalie Standiford
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

This true story happened in 1925 in the frontier town of Nome, Alaska, where snow and ice is abundant. Balto was a lead sled dog in the care of driver Gunnar, delivering supplies to the miners.

Two children became very ill with diphtheria, an illness that required a special medicine for them and all the townspeople. The nearest hospital was 800 miles away in Anchorage, Alaska, where the medicine was put on a train for transport to Nome. Because of deep snow, the train got stuck 700 miles from its destination. The townspeople suggested a dog-sled relay team get to the train, but it would take fifteen days, a timeframe they feared was still too long. The mayor of the town sent out a message over the radio asking for help. Gunnar heard the plea and decided to use Balto, his best and strongest lead dog.

In the middle of a blizzard, the dog-sled relay began on January 27, 1925, with twenty-one dog teams. Gunnar and Balto waited in Bluff to pick up the medicine from another driver. Gunnar's sled dogs got stuck in very deep snowdrifts, and crossed over a river of slippery ice - Balto slowed and began cautiously to step over the ice that began cracking. His feet were dangerously wet. The trail was hard to see in the blowing wind and snow, as Gunnar, Balto, and team drove fifty-three miles for twenty hours.

Natalie Standiford's text is written in short sentences, setting a pace which aids a youngster in understanding and absorbing the story. Donald Cook's illustrations are set in delicately expressive, air-brushed, muted colors. A 'Read Along' and 'Storytelling' CD accompanies the book, narrated by John Gabriel with music by Steve Blane. A statue of Balto was erected by the people of New York City, in Central Park where it still stands to this day to commemorate the bravest dog ever.

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