Monday, October 02, 2017

MMGM- Sled Dog School

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.
It's time to start nominating books for the Cybils' Awards! 

Johnson, Terry Lynn. Sled Dog School
October 3rd 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Matt's family is a bit quirky-- they live "off the grid" in Michigan, where his mother is a researcher and his father makes and sells pottery from their home, which also has an outhouse! Matt is struggling in school, especially with his math. When the teacher gives them the option of work up a business plan for extra credit, Matt hopes that this will be enough to keep him out of remedial math so Jacob, who gives him a hard time on the bus and in class, doesn't make fun of him. Matt comes up with the idea of a Sled Dog School, where he will give lessons using the equipment and dogs that his family has. His teacher requires the students to have three clients who are not family, and Matt starts out small, with Tubbs and his dog, Flute, who is very ill-behaved. Tubbs thinks that Matt's lifestyle is fascinating, and after a rough start, the two have some success with the dog sledding, if not with training Flute. They are soon joined by Alex, whose newscaster mother thinks that this will be a good activity for her college resume. Alex is good at everything, and also is okay with hanging around Matt's little sister, Lily, whom Matt is supposed to watch because his father is finishing up a big project. While the experience with the sled dogs is rocky, Matt enjoys making new friends. He continues to have problems with the math, but when the project is over, enlists the help of Tubbs and Alex to keep the school going.
Strengths: There are lots of interesting details on ho to care for and work with sled dogs. I especially appreciated how Matt and his family treated the dogs as working dogs but gave allowances for special connections with certain dogs. Books about children running businesses are always interesting to me, and the way the teacher ran the project was great. The fact that Matt eventually concluded that taking a remedial course would be helpful was good to hear-- the best academic decision I've made for my daughters was having one repeat algebra II with the same teacher. It wasn't a comfortable decision at the time, but it strengthened her math skills considerably! Seeking help is a good message, and one children need to hear about more.
Weaknesses: I could have done without Jacob bullying Matt, especially since his issues with Matt don't really seem to be resolved.
What I really think: Move over, Gary Paulsen. There is a new top sled dog in town, and her name is Terry Lynn Johnson! This book, along with Ice Dogs, are much more appealing to middle grade readers who don't have any practical experience with the sport. (Johnson also just came out with the fantastic Falcon Wild as well as two Survivor! books. She is on fire!)

Ms. Yingling


  1. I have been looking forward to reading Sled Dog School! It sounds like I'm going to like this new book -- I watched some sled dog training in Alaska.
    Entered Terry's Overboard! (Survival Series) in the Chapter book category of Cybils. She's such an expert

  2. I've put both this one and your selection from yesterday on top of my list of books to read. I hope they aren't too late coming out for the CYBILS, and someone will come forth and nominate. Thanks for all of your reviews this week.

  3. I’ve seen lots of great comments for Sled Dog School and animal books have always been very popular with my students.

  4. This sounds like an interesting book for students who are into dogs and want to read about kids with their own business.

  5. Good to know that the text is accessible to those even who may not know sledding.

    Nominating soon!

    Happy reading this week :)