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Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod

Overview

When she hurts her paw on the fourth day of the race, Akiak can no longer compete in the Iditarod-the famed dogsledding race through 1,151 miles of Alaskan terrain. Her musher has no choice but to leave her behind. The rules say once a dog is dropped from the race, it may not rejoin the team. But ten-year-old lead dog Akiak doesn't know the rules, and nothing will stop her from catching up to her team. Akiak has never won the race before. Will she be able to help her team win ...

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Overview

When she hurts her paw on the fourth day of the race, Akiak can no longer compete in the Iditarod-the famed dogsledding race through 1,151 miles of Alaskan terrain. Her musher has no choice but to leave her behind. The rules say once a dog is dropped from the race, it may not rejoin the team. But ten-year-old lead dog Akiak doesn't know the rules, and nothing will stop her from catching up to her team. Akiak has never won the race before. Will she be able to help her team win this time?

Akiak the sled dog refuses to give up after being injured during the Iditarod sled dog race.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In engrossing prose, this fictional tale chronicles the 10-day Iditarod run for 10-year-old Akiak, a veteran lead dog, who is running her final race. As the dog who knows the trail better than any other, she's run seven races but never come in first: "This was her last chance. Now, they must win now." On the fourth day, the husky is pulled from the race because of a sore paw, and Mick, her team's musher, decides to fly her home. But Akiak flees; she escapes checkpoint officials and heroically pursues her team, which is hours ahead. Her determination in the face of hunger, fatigue and blizzard conditions soon wins the support of mushers and spectators alike one spread shows a family who has put out food for her watching from a lighted window. In smooth, journalistic style, Blake Riptide nimbly plaits Akiak's solitary quest with the team's struggle to win without her. The suspense mounts with Akiak's surprise reappearance, then peaks in sweet victory at the finish line. Blake's thickly brushed oil paintings depict the hardship of the journey, as snow takes on many faces: it's a docile white beard in a dog's fur, a disorienting force in a blinding storm and, in many a landscape spread, a vast expanse of cornflower blue and violet. Here, narrative and artwork pull equal weight to give readers a memorable ride. Ages 5-up. Sept.
Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
When lead dog Akiak's paw becomes sore, she is dropped from the Iditarod sled dog race. In an anthropomorphic way, she knows that this is her last chance to win (she's 10 years old,) so she breaks loose and sets out to catch up to her team. Akiak can't legally be put back in the lead, but she does manage to show her team it's headed the wrong way. Since Alaskan sled dogs have been known to figure out things like thin ice or wrong turns, this isn't too far out of the realm of possibility. Blake's story is better than his pictures, which look blotchy from thick applications of oil paint. He does have a nice way with the varying colors of snow, however.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3Left behind because of an injury, a lead husky sets out on her own to find her team and win the race. An action-packed tale of daring, determination, and dedication. (Sept. 1997)
Kirkus Reviews
From Jack London's Call of the Wild to Gary Paulsen's many tales, the relationship between humans and dogs as they face the harsh northern climes has captivated readers. Recapitulating that theme is Blake's story of the 1,151-mile Iditarod from Anchorage to Nome; Mick's lead dog is Akiak, who pounds through wind and across snow, never getting lost. Then, on Day Four, ice jams up one of Akiak's pawpads and she is taken out of the race and almost flown home. She twists free of her handler before the plane takes off, pushes through blizzards and past checkpoints, sticking to the trail and eventually meeting up with Mick; according to the rules, Akiak cannot be harnessed up again but she does prevent her mistress from taking the wrong trail before climbing aboard the sled for the ride to a first-place finish. Blake's naturalistic icy blue paintings chronicle Akiak's independent race across lone landscapes, burrowing in snowdrifts for shelter and escaping well-meaning trail volunteers. The rugged style translates well from the ocean setting of Spray (1996) to the untamed Alaskan terrain; the textured slathers of oil paint in repeated cold tones are perfect for icy plains, tracks in the snow, and rooftop icicles. Akiak's efforts may not constitute life-and-death drama, but young readers will cheer the heroic dog on in this satisfying outdoor adventure.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142401859
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/21/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 242,920
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.65 (w) x 10.71 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert J. Blake was born and raised in New Jersey. As a boy he made "tons of drawings" and used up thousands of crayons. He says, "I even did a huge crayon mural on our hallway that was not artistically appreciated by my parents."

Sharing one large room with two older brothers was "total chaos," he recalls. "We had lots of animals - dogs, ducks, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, turtles, snakes, birds, fish, and even two flying squirrels. And, oh yes, a tarantula. I think my parents were afraid to come up to our room."

Mr. Blake now resides in New Jersey with his wife and son. He works in his studio, a renovated barn on his property. Mr. Blake says, "I would like to paint in every state in the United States and in every country in the world."

"I hope my books lend the reader a feeling, and emotion, a new point of view, a new way to look at something that they might not have experienced otherwise."

Robert J. Blake was born and raised in New Jersey. As a boy he made "tons of drawings" and used up thousands of crayons. He says, "I even did a huge crayon mural on our hallway that was not artistically appreciated by my parents."

Sharing one large room with two older brothers was "total chaos," he recalls. "We had lots of animals - dogs, ducks, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, turtles, snakes, birds, fish, and even two flying squirrels. And, oh yes, a tarantula. I think my parents were afraid to come up to our room."

Mr. Blake now resides in New Jersey with his wife and son. He works in his studio, a renovated barn on his property. Mr. Blake says, "I would like to paint in every state in the United States and in every country in the world."

"I hope my books lend the reader a feeling, and emotion, a new point of view, a new way to look at something that they might not have experienced otherwise."

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    A new family favorite!

    This is a wonderful story. My children love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2008

    GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    this book is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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