Sunday, February 21, 2016

On, You Huskies! Balto of the Blue Dawn (Magic Tree House #54 by Mary Pope Osborne

"It's going to be all right, Oki," Nurse Morgan said.

"Don't worry," said a man in a white coat. "I promise you, everyone is working night and day to fight this epidemic."

"Dr. Welch, my sister and mother need the medicine now, or they will die!" said Oki. "Even in a blizzard, I know Gunnar Kaasen can keep running."

"That's it!" Annie whispered to Jack.

"What?" Jack said.

"Our mission! Help save the lives of these sick people!" Annie said. "That's why Merlin sent us here!"

It's warm summertime back in Frog Creek, but when Annie and Jack spot the Magic Tree House in the woods, their magical friend Teddy tells them they must hurry back to snowy Alaska in 1925 and, remaining incognito, make sure that serum arrives from Anchorage to Nome to stop the epidemic of diphtheria there. Teddy gives Jack a box with magical gold dust that will give them great skill with dog teams, but then he does something new:

"One more thing," said Teddy. "Merlin wants those you help to be the heroes. He does not wish his magic to be part of their story."

Teddy handed Annie a shimmering blue box. "It holds a bit of stardust. If you toss the stardust into the air, any memory of your visit will instantly be erased."

Jack and Annie climb down from the tree house just outside the Alaskan village of Nome in the midst of an oncoming blizzard. Oki offers them his uncle's sled and dogs to try to find the Klaasen's dog team and help them make it to Nome, and using the gold dust from the box to grant them expert powers, Jack and Annie take turns mushing along the trail. The storm closes in, and when Jack's boots break through the ice, they have to make a stop at a way station for dry socks and a warm up. With less than eight hours of their magic left to find Klaasen's team and return to Nome, they push on desperately down the trail. At last they find his sled overturned and his dogs' tug lines tangled. But there is another, even worse, problem.

"The package is missing!" Gunnar yelled. "It was tied to the sled. This is a catastrophe!"

Annie released Balto. "Find the medicine! Find it now," Annie yelled to the big lead dog.

In her latest, Magic Tree House #54: Balto of the Blue Dawn (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) (Random House, 2016), Mary Pope Osborne takes her time-traveling young adventurers back to the heroic mushers and dogs who brought the diphtheria antitoxin over 1000 miles from Anchorage to Nome in 1925.  In her Author's Note, Osborne scrupulously gives another lead dog, Togo, and his driver Leonhard Seppala their due credit for making the hardest lap in the great sled race against death along the Arctic Ocean, with Balto and Klaasen taking the victory lap into Nome. Osborne's historical fiction makes one of the great stories of heroism from the twentieth century, the genesis of the annual Iditarod sled race, accessible to young readers.

For more information about this real-life adventure story, see Mary Pope Osborne's and Natalie Pope Boyce's companion book, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #34: Dogsledding and Extreme Sports: A nonfiction companion to Magic Tree House #54: Balto of the Blue Dawn (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) (Random House, 2016).

For more stories of heroic animals, including Togo and Balto, pair this one with Jeff Campbell's Daisy to the Rescue: True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and Other Animal Heroes. Read (review here).

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home