The Incredible Life of Balto

( 8 )

Overview

Most people know the story of Balto, the world famous dog who led his dogsled team through a blizzard to deliver a lifesaving serum to the stricken people of Nome, Alaska, in 1925. Balto shot to instant stardom—a company named dog food after him, a famous sculptor erected a statue of him that stands in Central Park to this day, and the dog even starred in his own Hollywood movie. But what happened to Balto after the hoopla died down? With a lively, informative text and humorous, vibrant illustrations, Meghan ...

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The Incredible Life of Balto

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Overview

Most people know the story of Balto, the world famous dog who led his dogsled team through a blizzard to deliver a lifesaving serum to the stricken people of Nome, Alaska, in 1925. Balto shot to instant stardom—a company named dog food after him, a famous sculptor erected a statue of him that stands in Central Park to this day, and the dog even starred in his own Hollywood movie. But what happened to Balto after the hoopla died down? With a lively, informative text and humorous, vibrant illustrations, Meghan McCarthy captures the extraordinary life of Balto beyond his days as a celebrity.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having previously highlighted high-profile animals in City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male and Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse, McCarthy turns to Balto, the famous sled dog, to explore his life after the spotlight stopped shining. After making an arduous journey to deliver medicine to combat diphtheria in Nome, Alaska, in 1925, Balto and his owner at first enjoy fame. But after a statue and a starring movie role, Balto's fortunes change when he's sold to a vaudeville act. Though McCarthy's caricature-styled acrylics at times seem incongruous for the subject matter—the googly eyes on both dogs and people may even elicit laughter in some scenes—they temper the grim parts of the tale. Straightforward narration keeps this picture-book biography moving toward its happy conclusion: "With the help of Cleveland newspaper, word of Balto's and the other dogs' poor treatment spread. Children donated their pennies, people passed around collection hats at their jobs" in a successful bid to bring the dog team to a local zoo. It's an accessible introduction to the story of Balto, and a reminder of the fickle nature of fame. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)
Pamela Paul
Among dogs of note, Balto is particularly well known. But children will appreciate the simple and engaging text, and also the cartoonish bug-eyed dogs…the story of Balto leading his team to its destination despite punishing conditions…is gripping even in the retelling. And McCarthy's version benefits by relating what happened after the successful journey.
—The New York Times
Children's Literature - Anne Hevener
In 1925, when the town of Nome, Alaska, was struck with diphtheria and had run out of the life-saving serum, teams of sled dogs were organized to run a new supply through blizzard conditions and 50 below temperatures from the town of Nenana, near Fairbanks, to Nome. Leading the sled team that made the final trek was the dog Balto, and his heroism was heralded afterward in news stories all over the country, from Alaska to New York City. The story of Balto has been told in other books and an animated film. What distinguishes this retelling is the author's decision to go beyond the well-known tale of the race to Nome to describe the rest of Balto's story: how he eventually was abandoned to the owner of a circus sideshow, all but forgotten, until a Cleveland man discovered him and with the help of the city's school children raised enough money to buy his freedom. Presented in picture book format with simple text and appealing cartoon-style paintings by the author, this is a fine introduction to the story of a dog so famous that a sculpture of him can be found in New York City's Central Park. Children in early elementary will be interested in the author's appendix that includes a note about the detective-like work of conducting research for nonfiction stories along with suggestions for activities that illustrate some of the challenges. Reviewer: Anne Hevener
School Library Journal
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375844607
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/9/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 378,522
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Pretty good

    Ok...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2011

    Good

    Pretty good book I would buy it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    Emma Genkinger

    Love it ,great

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    Balto

    Awsome book loved t.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Dfdgg

    C

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Zowemomo

    Zowemomo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Gwif1234

    This book was/is asome!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2011

    great book!

    a must read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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