Gr 1-4-- A heavily illustrated, easy-to-read explanation of the Iditarod Sled-Dog Race. Through spare text and stylized illustration, basic information is given about the dogs, the history of the race, the environment in which it is run, and some of the rules. (The recent change not to allow mushers to stay in private homes is not included.) The watercolor illustrations are whimsical and give the book charm. Attractive borders add visual interest to some pages; however, the Eskimo sun glasses found in one of them are not identified as such and are apt to cause confusion. The oversimplified text and illustrations mislead readers into thinking that Eskimo cultures are the only ones on the trail, while three-quarters of the race goes through Athapaskan Indian villages. The overall effect of the book, however, is a positive portrayal of an unusual sport. Mush! will be useful in primary-grade classrooms involved in Alaska studies, and for those junior armchair adventurers who long for the romance of the frigid North and the ``Last Great Race.'' --Mollie Bynum, Chester Valley Elementary School, Anchorage, AK
Children often assume that all dogs are pets. But the sled dogs that run in the annual 1,000-plus-mile Iditarod race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, are work dogs, just as their ancestors were. The race was organized by Joe Redington in 1973 as a tribute to the sled dogs that delivered lifesaving diphtheria medicine to Nome in 1925. This striking volume, which begins with a history of the relationship between the Eskimos, or Inuits, and their dogs, culminates in a description of the grueling competition each March, when many teams of mushers (drivers) accept the challenges of weather, precarious trails, and possible injuries to themselves and their dogs (8-17 per team). The smooth text is sprinkled with fascinating details. The dogs' diet en route sometimes includes warm beaver, bacon, and seal blubber stew. The dogs wear hand-sewn booties for protection, and a driver may need as many as 1,000 for a single race. Attractive watercolor paintings portray the strong, handsome animals and starkly beautiful landscape, and delicate, distinctive border scenes embellish many of the pages of text. An unusual volume that celebrates a unique vision of survival and courage along icy paths of triumph. --Booklist September 15,1992.