Friday, August 12, 2022

Brave Animals

Berne, Emma Carlson and Rosa, Francesca (illus.)
Balto (Animals to the Rescue #1)
August 2nd 2022 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In 1925, Nome, Alaska was hard to access at certain times of the year. Airplanes were still not reliable, so teams of dog sleds were often the only way in or out. When a diptheria epidemic was identified and killed several children, it was necessary to get the antitoxin serum from the mainland US to the city. The process of getting the sled dog teams through treacherous weather conditions is interesting and has been told in Osborne's 2016 Balto of the Blue Dawn (Magic Tree House #54) and Klimo's 2014 Togo (Dog Diaries #4) , as well as other books, but this book had so much more back information that I learned a LOT. 

We find out more about Balto's beginnings, and how Leonard Seppala trained him and had him working at the Hammon Consolidated Gold Fields. We also get to know Togo, who was twelve when he went 261 through all sorts of hazardous conditions before turning the serum over to Charlie Olsen's team. There are so many details I didn't know, and it was great to see the entire event covered in one book. It was also good that the fame of the dogs, and all the places that they traveled to meet people was covered. 

The illustrations are great, and the emotions on the dogs' faces were rather amusing. I'm interested to see what the other titles in this series would be. It's a great length and set in a font size that is perfect for 2nd-5th graders. I would have adored these as a child, and it's a great title to fans of Stier's A Dog's Day books. 

Lloyd, Megan Wagner. Haven 
August 2nd 2022 by Candlewick Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Haven is a small cat who was rescued as a kitten by Ma Millie and has lived in her house, snuggling with her and basking in the aroma of baking bread. They are occasionally visited by neighbor Jacob Levan, who helps out the older woman and is now raising a cow she once had. When Ma Millie becomes ill, Haven is worried. She tries to find Jacob, but the cows say he has gone into town. How will Haven get there? She finds herself in the company of a fox (who has no name-- thoses are for soft, domesticated creatures!) who is bored. The fox takes pity on Haven and offers to help her get to town instead of trying to eat her. The two struggle to make their way across the treacherous forest, eluding a determined bobcat as well as other threats. When they make it to the town, the fox (who has accepted the name True) goes about her way, but Haven can't find Jacob. Will the cat be able to get help before Ma Millie is in serious danger?
Strengths: Ma Millie's cozy house is a nice foil for the harshness of the woods. My favorite part is undoubtedly the fox, who could so easily have eaten Haven but took her on as a project because she was bored. Are foxes really the wily and deceitful creatures fiction has made them out to be, or is it just their cute faces with inscrutable expressions? The two have an unlikely friendship, but stick together and learn to enjoy each other's company. This is a great book to pair with Hashimoto's 2022 Bound for Home or Burnford's classic 1960 The Incredible Journey. 
Weaknesses: Okay, so Haven saves Ma Millie, but it's really the cows who alert Jacob. They don't get quite enough credit. 
What I really think: There are very few books about cat adventures; I can only think of the Warriors books and Blake's 2012 Last Free Cat. This is a somewhat shorter book, so would be good for elementary readers, but will also work in middle school for the feline obsessed reader who would rather be cuddling a cat than reading about them. I will probably purchase, but enjoyed this author's Allergic a lot more. I'm decidedly a dog person and believe in my heart of hearts that cats are evil and want to kill us all. My daughter's cats have not dissuaded me from this opinion! 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, cats don't really want to kill because we are so useful to them as servants. Besides, we know how to operate the can openers.