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.).
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Christina Pike.
"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.
"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.
Christina Pike is the principal of Macdonald Drive Junior High in St. John's, NL.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
|This Creative Commons license allows you to download the review and share it with others as long as you credit the CM Association. You cannot change the review in any way or use it commercially.
Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.
Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - March 16, 2018.
CM Home | Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive