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The Incredible Life of Balto


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About the Author

MEGHAN McCARTHY is the author of several critically acclaimed nonfiction picture books, including Aliens Are Coming! The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast; Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas; and Astronaut Handbook.


Gr 1-5-Beginning with the diphtheria outbreak of 1925 in Nome, AK, this book relates how musher Gunnar Kaasen and sled team leader Balto embarked on a heroic relay race to deliver the crucial serum through the frigid snow and ice. Unlike many other books on the subject, the story does not end there. Readers follow the canine to Los Angeles for the opening of the biopic, Balto's Race to Nome, where he received a bone-shaped key to the city. Sadly, "A grapple over money caused the dogsled team to be sold.first to a vaudeville act and later to a paltry sideshow. "There Balto and the others were all but forgotten." Here, the once-energetic racers are depicted inert with heavy chains and an upside-down dish of kibble. An indignant businessman in Cleveland helped popularize the animals' cause; the public rallied with school collections and fundraisers to help buy the team, after which he donated them to a zoo "so that all of the people who had helped rescue them could visit..There Balto could relax and enjoy the rest of his life." McCarthy's signature childlike cartoons feature bug-eyed characters rendered in acrylics on gessoed paper. The endpapers show a map of the serum run and Iditarod route. This engaging, informative nonfiction picture book is an ideal read-aloud. Concise, well-chosen text and bold, humorous illustrations make it a first choice.-Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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