________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 27. . . .March 16, 2018


Sled Dog School.

Terry Lynn Johnson.
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2017.
198 pp., hardcover & epub, $21.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-544-87331-5.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Christina Pike.

**** /4



"Matthew," Mr. Moffat said.

Matt's throat went dry. He forced himself to stand on shaky legs and stumbled to the front of the room. All faces turned toward him to stare. His eyeballs froze. Matt wasn't able to do anything but stare back. Someone tittered near the classroom door and it released the spell. Matt clutched his homework sheet in front of him.

"I'm teaching dog sledding," he began.

"What's that, Matthew?" Mr. Moffat said, squinting and leaning toward him. "Speak up."

Matt looked out over the sea of faces and picked a spot on the wall to stare at. "I'm going to get clients and show them how to run a team. Like piano lessons. But with dogs."

"You're offering piano lessons?" Mr. Moffat asked.

Jacob barked out a laugh.

"Dogsled lessons."

"Oh! Well...all right, that's a unique service. How are you going to know if your lessons are a success? Will they have to pass a test?"


"Sounds interesting. Less mumbling next time, okay? And don't forget the numbers. Now, Chloe Bickle, let's have your report, please."


Sled Dog School tells the story of 11-year-old Matthew Misco. His family lives literally off the grid after moving back to the country. They have no electricity and an outhouse. They also raise sled dogs. Matt feels his family is unlike any other. His dad works from home making pottery. His mom is a researcher and wears a lumber jacket with a big paper flower in her lapel.

      Sled Dog School is about Matt, but it is also about setting goals, making friends, and honesty. It is also about what it means to be 11 and to be not like everyone else. Johnson has created a character in Matt who is struggling to fit in and struggling with the possibility of failing math Like many others, Matt is afraid to tell his parents and ask for math help. As Matt works through his math assignment for extra credit, he questions himself and his family and their choices. As Matt's gains his first paying customer, he begins to realize what he is good at and begins to gain confidence. What starts out as a school math assignment turns into a lesson in acceptance, perseverance and resilience.

      A good read.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Pike is the principal of Macdonald Drive Junior High in St. John's, NL.

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