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Ice Dogs

Ice Dogs

4.7 25
by Terry Lynn Johnson

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Victoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.

The author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself, and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as


Victoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.

The author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself, and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Johnson’s second novel about dogsledding, after 2010’s Dogsled Dreams, is a page-turner full of white-knuckle action. Fourteen-year-old Vicky Secord is determined to win the White Wolf Classic to solidify her late father’s legacy as an expert musher. She misses him deeply and has thrown herself into mushing, neglecting her social life and resenting her mother, who Vicky is certain wants to leave Alaska for Seattle. During what was supposed to be a quick trip on the sled Vicky encounters a young stranger collapsed in the snow after a snowmobile accident. As Chris recovers, he reveals himself to be a smart aleck fresh in from Toronto with no knowledge of the outdoors. When their map is lost as a result of carelessness on Chris’s part, they are lost for days with only Vicky’s persistence and memories of her father’s wisdom to save them. The unlikely team’s bickering (and chemistry), the risks inherent to the wilderness, and the dogs’ personalities are all skillfully rendered. Readers will be riveted until the end. Ages 10–up. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"A page-turner full of white-knuckle action. . . . Readers will be riveted until the end."
Publishers Weekly

"[A] thoroughly engaging and incredibly suspenseful survival story. . . Well-crafted, moving and gripping."

"Debut novelist Johnson links character to setting by showing how Vicky uses her knowledge of the land and copes with the elements, creates shelter, and snares animals in order to survive."
The Horn Book Magazine

"The high-stakes adventure and episodic nature of the chapters will make this book an easy sell for reluctant readers."
School Library Journal

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old dog musher, has been struggling in the year since her father died. Her relationship with her mother is falling apart and her best source of comfort is the dog team that once belonged to her father. While out on a run with the animals, she finds and rescues an injured city boy, but after getting lost in a blizzard they both need rescuing. With the survival skills she learned from her father, Victoria must lead them all to safety. Written by a musher, this book is full of detailed descriptions of dog sledding and far northern survival. At times the technical details are more fully fleshed out than the character development, but they are never so complex as to break the flow of the story. Fast-paced plotting and suspense-filled writing will push readers along as the characters journey from dangerous disasters to lucky breaks. The high-stakes adventure and episodic nature of the chapters will make this book an easy sell for reluctant readers. Even in an arctic setting that can feel as foreign as a distant planet, Johnson keeps a sense of realism in this enjoyable adventure tale.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews
In late winter in the Alaskan bush, a top junior dog sled racer loses her way in this thoroughly engaging and incredibly suspenseful survival story. The day after 14-year-old Victoria Secord places sixth in a race that qualifies her for the coveted White Wolf Classic, she hooks up her dogs and sets off for what she thinks will be a four-hour run covering an estimated 35 miles. She's heard that a local competitor "may be getting out of dogs" and is determined to have first pick of his champion leaders. But things get out of hand quickly. She finds and rescues an injured snowmobiler (Chris, a city boy her age) and in her haste to get him home, takes an unfamiliar trail as a blizzard builds; they're forced to spend that night (and more) outside. Johnson (Dogsled Dreams, 2010), a former musher, clearly writes from a deep well of experience. She admirably depicts the emotional life of a self-reliant, introspective and angry young musher mourning the loss of her beloved father, a trapper and river guide, who died in an accident 14 months earlier. Worried about dehydration, hypothermia, and food for both dogs and themselves, Vicky draws on memories of experiences with her dad to guide them. Though Chris' ignorance of outdoor life often endangers them, their burgeoning, bantering friendship adds depth even as the well-paced suspense builds. Well-crafted, moving and gripping. (Adventure. 10-14)
Children's Literature - Linda Sweitzer
Fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord is one of the youngest and most skilled dogsledders in Tanana Valley, Alaska. She is determined to win the upcoming White Wolf Classic race in honor of her father, who never won a race and for whose death she feels responsible. Socially withdrawn after the accident, she finds it difficult to talk to anyone except her Uncle Leonard (her dad’s twin brother) and her best friend Sarah. Victoria’s dogs are her life, and the bond she shares with them, especially her lead dog, Bean, is as natural as the Alaskan wilderness. To ensure her chances of a win, she wants a couple of the champion dogs from kindred musher Jeremy Cook, who is getting out of the sport. But Victoria’s mom—not an admirer of the sport—refuses to argue again about buying any more “dogs.” Unable to afford the top-of-the-line dogs, Victoria heads out with her team to Cook’s place to discuss his price. On her way, she becomes lost when she takes an unfamiliar shortcut and stumbles upon a snow mobile without an owner. After searching for the rider, she finds an injured and unconscious boy her age covered by snow. The boy is poorly dressed for the Alaskan elements and will freeze if she does not get him back to town. Along the way, Victoria finds herself and her dogs burdened by this stranger who could endanger all their lives. Thus begins her long journey back to town, back to life. Johnson’s first-hand knowledge of dog sledding in Alaska is evident as she has the reader numb from the biting cold, aching from starvation and lack of sleep, and trembling at the possibility of perishing in the wilderness. A good read for fans of Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George or Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. Reviewer: Linda Sweitzer; Ages 10 to 13.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.10(d)
690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt


All eight of  my  dogs  are  stretched  in  front of me in pairs along the gangline. They claw the ground in frustration as the loudspeaker blares.
   “Here’s team number five. Our hometown girl, fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord!”
   A male voice booms out my racing stats while my lead dog, Bean, whips his crooked rat tail. He tries to lunge forward, and then catches my eye and screams with a pitch that shoots up my spinal cord and electrifies my teeth.
   “Easy!” I grip the sled with shaking hands. I freaking hate starts.
   With close to a hundred dogs here, the energy in the air is frantic. The bawling of the dogs in the team behind me echoes in my ears while the distinct odor of dog doo smeared under my runners assaults my nose. I try to focus on my dogs and the race chute ahead. Not the burning need to win. Not the fact that there’s no one here to cheer for me.
   “We gotcha.” Two burly guys kneeling on  the start line struggle to hold my bucking sled stanchions.
   “Three, two, one, GO!”
   We leap forward and shoot through Wicker’s parking lot.The main race sponsor insisted we start at his feed store, even though it’s three blocks away from the trailhead.They trucked in snow to get us through the streets, but as we skid through the dirty slush, I can tell this is a bad idea. Mushers need a real snow base for any kind of control.
   My frozen eyelashes stick together, and I swipe at them as I peer ahead.We fly to the first corner, my heart pounding.
   “Haw!” I shout.
   My leaders swerve left, and the dogsled skids sideways. We’re gaining momentum. With the wind cutting into my face, it feels as if I’m being sling-shot out of a jet.
   A red Chevette is the last in a line of parked vehicles along the other side of the road. I crouch lower, stick my left foot out, and dig the heel of my mukluk in to carve a tighter turn.
   The sled continues skidding—closer, closer.
   I jump on the brake, smashing the two metal points into the ground with every ounce of my five- foot-nothing frame. Still we skid.And then we careen into the door, my teeth rattling with the impact. A metal screech announces the collision to everyone. I hear a grinding pop.
   We clear the car, and I look down to see a little extra weight in the sled bag—a side mirror. Glancing around to see if anyone noticed, I grab it and nonchalantly toss it away.The cold wind whistles through me when I grin.
   I turn my attention back to my dogs. My leaders, Bean and Blue, dig for the trailhead with matching strides. Blue’s classic husky coat, with his black and white facemask, is even more striking next to Bean’s rusty-propane-tank shade of fur.
   We hurtle down the middle of the street that’s been blocked off for the race. Now that they’re running, my dogs are all business, focused ahead with tight tuglines. My heart squeezes with pride. They don’t glance up as they barrel past a crouched photographer with a telephoto lens.They even ignore the smell coming from the hot dog stand next to the coffee shop.We catapult past a truck with its doors open blasting country music, past the historic log building that is the trading post with the two moose over the door. Someone had found the two sets of antlers locked together and the scene of how the animals died is forever replicated.When I was young, I could hardly stand to look at it, imagining what the moose had to endure, stuck together in battle, helpless and starving to death in the bush.
   Finally we’re past Main Street, and we slip by the snow fencing that funnels us toward the trail.
   I feel an instant calm.
   The din of the crowd fades behind us. It’s just me and the dogs and the sunbeams breaking through the spruce branches stretching across the trail like cold fingers.The runners slice over the snow making their familiar shhhh sounds. I breathe in the tang of spruce pitch and the icy air is sharp in my throat.
   But the most important thing is the dogs. It’s always about the dogs.
   I watch the way Whistler paces with her lopsided gait, the way Bean flicks his ears back to check on me, and how they all run together as if listening to the same beat of a drum, like a dragon boat team paddling in sync.
   Bean and I have some kind of soul connection that I can’t explain. I have a connection with all of my dogs, but Bean just gets me. I like to imagine we were friends in another life. Not that I believe in that, but there’s no other way to describe that day when he was a pup and we looked at each other. Recognition. It’s Bean who I greet first in the dog yard every morning, or when I get home from school. We have conversations. Sarah Charlie calls it crazy. She worries that I’ve changed too much since the accident.
   “It’s not healthy to just want to be with your dogs,Vicky. Life is about more than racing.You need to try to get back in the game. Remember when we used to have fun?
   I shake my head and lightly touch my good luck mink. It’s a narrow pewter charm as long as my hand that’s hung around the handlebar of my dogsled since Dad gave it to me when I was nine. I’ve secretly named it Mr. Minky.
   I pat the base of my nose with a shaky mitt, and call to the dogs.“Good dog, Blue, attaboy! Easy, Dorset.Who’s a good girl?”
   Their ears swivel back, but they keep trotting ahead.The sled bumps and skips over dips in the hard-packed trail. I pedal my foot to help the dogs pull faster. I want to win this race for Dad. I glance at Mr. Minky, and then concentrate on the trail.
   As the dogs take a corner, I lean out from the handlebar. We skid, snow spraying out from the runners. Tears squeeze out the corners of my eyes and freeze in lines across my temples. I blink rapidly to stop my eyelashes from sticking together again.
   Some mushers wear ski goggles, but I don’t like how looking through goggles separates me from my environment. I like to see things clearly.
The dogs have good speed coming out of the turn. They’re really pulling, as if they know we need to win. But they should drop back to their trots—we have a long way to go yet.
   “Easy. Easy, dogs.”
   They run faster, smoking around a poplar stand. When we get to a straight stretch I look ahead. And then I see the wolf.


Meet the Author

Terry Lynn Johnson, author of ICE DOGS and the SURVIVOR DIARIES series, lives in Whitefish Falls, Ontario where for ten years she owned a team of eighteen Alaskan Huskies. Visit Terry at terrylynnjohnson.com and on Twitter at @TerryLynnJ.

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Ice Dogs 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ice Dogs is a fantastic book for anyone to read. It is a well-written story about young, female musher in Alaska. Once you begin reading this book, you will have a difficult time putting it down! I highly recommend it!!
book4children More than 1 year ago
The never ending love between a girl and her dogs. The fight to survive the harsh conditions of Alaska's wilderness. A friendship found in an unlikely way. All of these things are why I loved Ice Dogs so much. I've always been a fan of survival stories, especially if they involve animals, and this book did not disappoint. It was fast paced and riveting. Once I picked the book up, I didn't set it down again until I finished. Vicky is an interesting character. She is stubborn and grouchy, but those traits also help her survive. She deals with a lot of heartache over losing her father and her depleted relationship with her mother. Her unusual friendship with Chris helps her deal with everything she's feeling and gives her another reason to push forward, even when she feels like giving up. The dogs, understandably, play a huge role in the book, and I loved the relationship Vicky had with her lead dog, Bean. Vicky looks out for her dogs and they look out for her. But the author doesn't try to deceive the reader—she paints the sled dogs in a realistic light. They are not docile, and they do not stop running just because their owner has toppled off the sled. They get distracted easily and are the cause of a lot of troubles on the trail. However, their love for Vicky is unmatched and they are her and Chris' only means for getting out of the wilderness, and their survival. The dogs save the two teens just as often than they get them into trouble. My one and only reservation on the book is the innuendo. Even though the main character is fourteen, this is still a middle grade novel. There isn't much innuendo, but there is some, and I like my middle grade books squeaky clean. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that likes survival or animal stories, but I would also suggest parents read it first to make sure it's appropriate for your child. Verdict: Awesome! Content: Some innuendo (no kissing) Source: The author sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
Be sure to have a nice warm throw handy when you read author Terry Lynn Johnson’s ICE DOGS no matter the season. The author’s vivid descriptions of the Alaskan countryside will send chills down your spine with the authentic details. Johnson brings the snowy landscape to life as she takes readers on an incredible journey of survival with 14-year-old Victoria Secord, an Alaskan dogsled racers. Johnson paints a breathtaking setting for her young adult adventure. Her eye for details and her extensive knowledge of mushers will have you experiencing the challenges Victoria faces. Johnson’s easy flowing story pulls you in and makes you feel a part of the drama. Victoria follows in her late father’s footsteps, continuing to compete in dogsled races. On a routine outing to visit a neighboring musher, Victoria encounters Chris, a city boy who has been injured in a snowmobile wreck. Chris says he lives nearby so Victoria decides to take him home on her dog sled. A short time later the pair become lost in the forest after Chris directs Victoria down an unfamiliar path only to discover he doesn’t remember his way home. When a blizzard strikes it’s up to Victoria to use all of the survival skills her father taught her to keep herself, her dogs and Chris alive and find their way home. Johnson combines her knowledge of dog sledding with a touching story to keep readers quickly turning the pages to find out what happens next. The story flows at a steady pace and is filled with suspense. Johnson does an excellent job showing the deep and meaningful bond between a musher and their magnificent dogs. The characters are realistic and well-developed. While geared for readers in grades four and up, ICE DOGS is an enthralling read for all ages. This awe-inspiring story will capture your heart. It’s a must read for dog lovers and non-dog lovers alike. FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
SherryE More than 1 year ago
Fourteen-year-old, Victoria Secord, is an Alaskan dog sled racer. While she is out on a trail with her dogs, she comes across an injured young man who has had a snow mobile accident. Trying to rescue him and get home becomes and epic adventure. Ice dogs is a fast-paced story of survival with well-developed characters and a riveting plot. It's a book that even reluctant readers would have difficulty putting down. Ice Dogs is a story that would appeal to young readers ages ten and older.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So good I will recomend it to dog lovers and just lots of people
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ice Dogs is a fascinating book ... hard to put down. Be ready to bundle up in a warm sweater as you read this story of survival in remote Alaska. I give this book a hearty, well deserved thumbs up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ce Dogs is a fantastic adventure story set in the great outdoors of Alaska. Despite the bleak odds Victoria and Chris face, a lot of the dialogue and internal thoughts of the characters help to offset it. I found myself smiling several times. Here were a few of my fav. lines: Chris's appetite is not satisfied until he's described every meal he's ever cooked, eaten, or thought about eating. And: "Bear proofing," I say. "That's a big furry animal with long claws that likes to break into camps when no one is home." "Okay, okay. City folks actually know what bears are. We've seen them in Coke commercials." Victoria's struggles to keep her, Chris, and the dogs alive help her in learning how to better cope with a serious loss in her life. Also, the relationship between her and Bean, the lead dog, is a true bond between dog and dog owner. As for the dog team itself, the joy they find in running really comes off the page. Though Terry Lynn Johnson keeps it real and lets us see the grittier side of the dog's relationships- such as the pack mentality that is quick to raise its head during a scuffle. In summary, this is a great debut and I'll look forward to more of Terry Lynn Johnson's work! ~Leandra Wallace
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omehff!!! -_- dis is not a roleplay! This is BOOK REVIEWS *-*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book,especially if you like dogs! Great for all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it. Especially liked the survival mechanisms so wisely used by the girl in her wilderness setting. Kind of a "chick-flick" type of book, but quick and easy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Going to Alaska in May...thought it would be fun to read about the terrain. It was a fun, quick moving read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story. Nice to read an exciting book for any age.
Shel11 More than 1 year ago
It was hard to put this book down! When Victoria and her sled dogs comes across Chris, who had been in a snow machine accident, the adventure begins! This book takes one to "the heart of darkness" and back again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down, drew me in. Really enjoyed this heartfelt stort
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down. Well written.
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
A true "adventure story" for readers young and old. This book kept me entralled from the very first word to the very last - and left me wanting lots more stories about Vicky and her dogs and her life in Alaska. I LOVED it - and the fact that I truly felt like I was there with the characters, fighting for survival. I really was nervous with and for them throughout the story. WOW. I just finished and I feel physically and mentally exhausted from being so totally involved. I really appreciated every word about what life must be like for someone who is involved in sledding and their dogs and life of survival out in the open ruggedness of the state of Alaska. Thank you, Terry Lynn Johnson, for the gift of your words. This was a great story - and NOT just for yougsters. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a true adventure story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Listen i know i hurt you i didnt mean it like i was using you i just meant like this could be more then just hooking up like i could actually date you. Do you see it was just a misunderstanding
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rich story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A black shecat with white markings and a red collar with teeth on it walks in and sits down she is six moons old she says "hey can i join your clan cause i got kicked out of bloodclan and i know im six mons old but im a warrior and my dad recruited me when i was a kit, turns out i was as good as him so yeah im a warrior and plus my dad is scourge mouse brain." She says unkindly then says "i like your claws, theyre long." She says admiringly and pads into the warriors den mumbling something
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eclipseflame are you here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Oh no! Please tell me he isn't going to die."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grins. Morningclan here i come!!! She sang.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked it