Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Legend of Ghost Dog

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. Legend of Ghost Dog.
1 November 2012, Scholastic 

Anita moves to a cabin near Nome, Alaska with her brother Jack and her dog Henry because her mother is off in Japan on business and her father is conducting research on human/dog relationships and how they are being destroyed by the snowmobile. Since there aren't many children around, Anita meets the daughter of another researcher, Quin, and the two, though quiet and bookish, take to each other. Anita and Quin also like hiking, but there is something in the woods that is spooking Henry. On one hike, the girls see a dog in the doorway of an abandoned cabin, and know that the dog (whom they call Shadow) is a ghost. When they meet Clay, an older resident who knows a lot about the history of sled dogs in the area, they find out about a family that bred dogs but after several family tragedies, abandons the area, including the cabin. Despite knowing how to be safe when hiking, the girls decide to investigate the cabin when their fathers are off researching, and the three children get caught in a horrible snow storm while they are on the mountain. They take refuge in the cabin but soon begin to get very cold. Shadow rescues them and takes them to the house of an elderly woman who is the daughter of the dog breeders. Shadow is the ghost of her "heart dog", Caspian, who was accused of a horrible role in the family tragedy. Can the girls' investigations shed light on these past events and help the people (and dogs)involved move on?
Strengths: Nice sense of place-- almost want to go hiking in Alaska now! The friendship between the girls is a nice touch, and ghost dogs seem to be a hot new theme. Enough adventure and action.
Weaknesses: Kind of saw how the whole story would play out early on, and didn't quite buy that both girls liked reading Jane Austen. Can't say I've had one student in fifteen years really even read her! 

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