February 12, 2016

Courageous sled dogs save town

The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail
by Debbie S. Miller
illustrations by Jon Van Zyle

A diphtheria epidemic broke out in Nome, Alaska in the winter of 1925. The lives of many children were threatened. They desperately needed an antitoxin serum which was only available in Anchorage, over 1000 miles away. With the weather too cold for the open cockpit planes used in those days, the only option was to send the serum by train for the first 400 miles, then by teams of dogsleds for the remaining journey. 

The rigours of the race form the basis of this gripping narrative, with dramatic pictures conveying the frigidness of the arctic surroundings. 

Twenty sled dog teams took part in the serum run, with the final team headed by a dog named Balto. He received the most attention and is remembered in numerous books and a movie. Often overlooked is the dog who ran the most miles in the race (over 200!): Togo.

Read Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and Togo by Robert J. Blake.

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