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Author: Terry Lynn Johnson

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,

Material: hard cover

Summary: For Victoria Secord (14), caring for and racing her dad's dogs keep the memory of her father alive. It certainly isn't her mom, who still looks down on her passion for racing. There's now way she'd never let Victoria get a new dog - but Victoria is determined. After her mom goes to work, Victoria and a small team head out. Almost to camp, she finds an overturned snowmobile and a boy face down in the snow. His name is Chris, and he just moved to town. What would have been a tough trek to safety turns to life threatening when a blizzard rolls in, the kids get lost, and a pack of wolves seem intent on hunting them. Lots of facts about dog sledding and life in Alaska underlay this action-filled page turner for middle grade readers. Great potential as a high interest / low readability adventure.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 9 and up

Interest Level: 10 and Up

Reading Level: 4.6

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: Teen reviewer 1: This book was one that I greatly enjoyed. It is a tale of adventure and survival, two of my favorite topics for books. The author does a wonderful job creating an accurate picture of what it is like to live in Alaska and to race sled dogs. I really appreciated this as it gave me an opportunity to learn about this dying sport while reading an interesting, fictional book. I think that anyone who likes action-adventure would truly enjoy Ice Dogs. I would recommend this book to anyone ages 10-14 because it wasn’t a difficult read, but I think that those of many ages would enjoy it. I personally would love to receive this book as a gift. I truly got sucked in and had a hard time putting it down!

Teen reviewer 2: Victoria is a character wise beyond her years, with more self-assurance than any fourteen year old I know. This does, however, give her a sense of authority mushing and makes this a great read for someone new to the dog-sled world. I recommend this novel for kids (girls and boys) in fourth grade and beyond. I would have loved to have read this book in elementary school and learned all about sled dog racing. For a Midwestern suburban girl like me, this novel offers an exotic, adventurous, and educational experience, with an inspiring heroine.

Teen reviewer 3: This novel was a great read for me. I enjoyed Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, and Ice Dogs is very similar. The descriptive language allows readers to imagine the beauty and loneliness of the wilderness. This action packed novel had a rich plot and well-developed characters. Johnson clearly depicted the dynamic of the surroundings and characters while providing background information on a topic that is new to most readers, especially young teens. For the most part, Ice Dogs is well-written and clear, but some of the characters are not appealing to readers because of the characteristics they are given. Overall, the novel is thrilling to read and ripe with excitement

Adult Reader Reaction: Spellbinding and amazing. I couldn’t stop reading it and struggled to put it down when I needed to go somewhere. The story is compelling on lots of levels. Chris and Victoria are well developed characters, who are not perfect nor likeable at all times. There is a lot of factual detail that will intrigue readers but also elicit “ooh gross.”

Pros: Fast-paced and filled with suspense, Ice Dogs will have readers spellbound. Odds are they'll read it in one sitting.

Cons: The story is set in the Alaskan wilderness and survival, there are some graphic details that may make some readers squeamish.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is an action story that will appeal to all readers. It would make a great gift.

If You Liked This Book, Try: Brianís Winter by Gary Paulsen; Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat HOLES   WOLF PACK OF THE WINISK RIVER   THE BOY ON THE WOODEN BOX; How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List

Educational Themes: Ice Dogs offers exceptional realistic fiction. Most of us don't know a lot about Alaska or dog sledding, so there is a lot to learn in that regard. Chris and Victoria are well-rounded characters with life experiences that affect their choices and decisions ... and make for great discussion.

Notes: A Reading Tub volunteer borrowed this book from the library. She read it for the 2014 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. It was a Middle Grade Fiction finalist. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils.

Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, animals, coming of age, death and loss

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2014, July 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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