Togo & Balto The dogs who saved a town

Jodie Parachini

Book - 2022

"Two dogs recount the relay race that brought life-saving medicine to children in Alaska. It was 1925 and the world was in a diphtheria pandemic. The town of Nome, Alaska, needed the serum to save its children but there was only one way to get there: dog sled. Balto and Togo, two Siberian huskies, were part of the relay race that pushed through below-freezing temperatures and a blizzard to bring the serum to Nome." --

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Parachini, Jodie. Animalographies.
Creative nonfiction
Informational works
Picture books
Chicago, Illinois : Albert Whitman & Company 2022.
Physical Description
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Ages 4-8
Grades 2-3
Main Author
Jodie Parachini (author)
Other Authors
Keiron Ward (illustrator), Jason Dewhirst
Review by Booklist Review

Though the Animalographies picture-book series (2 new titles) uses fictionalized stories told from an animal's perspective, it's an effective vehicle for imparting factual information to young learners. Engaging first-person narration, with periodic diary entries, draws readers into accounts of remarkable animals throughout history. In these installments, the featured animals perform various jobs with humans, and their training is detailed along with an accounting of their accomplishments. Togo & Balto is narrated by huskie and sled leader Togo, who was part of a life-saving dogsled relay to transport much-needed diphtheria medicine to Nome, Alaska. Balto gained greater celebrity, however, as the dog that led the final sled in the relay to its ultimate destination. Sweet digital illustrations fill the pages with color, cute animals, and, in the case of Togo & Balto, dramatic landscapes. Each story concludes with a "Fact Sheet" that offers quick stats on the animal heroes plus interesting information that connects with the main story. Togo & Balto reveals why huskies make great sled dogs. A fun series that kids will enjoy.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 1--3--The latest offering from "Animalographies" tells the story of Togo the sled dog. Togo was a mischievous puppy who grew to become the strong, smart lead in a team of sled dogs who transported various materials across Alaska during the early 1900s. However, Togo's most important delivery was the serum to save people from diphtheria in 1925. The 20 teams of 150 dogs had to run 674 treacherous miles in less than a week, before the serum expired, and Togo led the first leg of the relay. The informational picture book is told from Togo's perspective, in paragraph form with plenty of exclamation points, and includes little diary entries. Bright colorful illustrations fill the pages, and Togo's big blue eyes (which are humanlike and a bit peculiar) set him apart from all the other characters. The thrilling story, nearly 100 years old, should strike a chord in today's readers as memories of the COVID-19 vaccine are still fresh. While the title suggests that this is about Togo and Balto, it is undoubtedly Togo's story, with Balto a side character. Togo acknowledges that Balto received more attention for finishing the journey, but it is finally his turn to shine. Although back matter shares dog sled commands and why Siberian huskies were used, there are no resources listed, limiting this book's usefulness for reports. VERDICT Purchase where "Animalographies" are in demand.--Elissa Cooper

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

The true story of two dogs who were part of a mission to bring lifesaving serum to a remote Alaskan town. In January 1925, the town of Nome, Alaska, was hit by diphtheria, a deadly disease. The nearest source of serum was 674 miles away and only accessible by dog sled. Thanks to hardworking dog teams, a trip that would normally take 25 days only took six. Togo, the 12-year-old Siberian husky and pack leader who ran the longest leg of the journey, tells his story as well as that of 6-year-old sled dog Balto, who famously led the final sled team into Nome. In providing a brief history of sled dogs, Parachini notes that they were originally used to draw sleds that transported mail and travelers and that conveyed miners to Alaska's gold fields. She also mentions that "for many years Alaska Natives such as the Athabascans, Inuit, and Yuit used dogs as pack animals to carry heavy loads," but aside from this, Indigenous people are erased from the narrative. The digitally rendered illustrations depict a predominantly White community and center Togo's owner, Leonhard Seppala, a White Norwegian immigrant. Brief backmatter includes dog sled commands and a note detailing the qualities that make huskies good sled dogs. (This book was reviewed digitally.) An engaging hero's journey but one that's light on meaningful details and context. (Informational picture book. 4-10) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.