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Terry Lynn Johnson is among my favourite middle school authors. She always creates excellent characters that I feel like I could walk into a room and start talking to (well.. except for the ones I don’t like!). 🙂 She has done herself proud with her latest book Dog Driven.
In this book I met McKenna and Emma along with their parents, fellow racers Guy and Hannah. And the dogs.. oh my.. I could just know McKenna’s dogs from their descriptions! Excellent detail all round, let me tell you about this, my most recent review!
What I am Reviewing
Terry Lynn Johnson.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.
Age 10+, Grade 5+, 240 pages.
Received: Softcover Advanced Reader copy.
Reviewed for: Raincoast Books.
Middle School, Canada, Canadian Wilderness, Dog Sledding, Friendship, Stargardt Disease, independence, children’s illness, Winter, Sled Dogs, Fiction
McKenna Barney is trying to hide her worsening eyesight and has been isolating herself for the last year. But at the request of her little sister, she signs up for a commemorative mail run race in the Canadian wilderness-a race she doesn’t know if she can even see to run.
Winning would mean getting her disease-and her sister’s-national media coverage, but it would also pit McKenna and her team of eight sled dogs against racers from across the globe for three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, snow squalls, and bitterly cold nights.
A page-turning adventure about living with disability and surviving the wilderness, Dog Driven is the story of one girl’s self-determination and the courage it takes to trust in others.
Well developed characters fill the pages in Dog Driven. Terry Lynn Johnson does an excellent job of showing McKenna’s determination to not be an invalid, and her very real fear that she could be forced to become so.
Guy and Hannah are interesting counterparts… Hannah needing to stand up for herself, and Guy providing help and being in need of the same. All dog mushers in a commemorative race.
Can they face up to the Canadian wilderness? Will they see their dogs, and themselves through? What will happen if McKenna’s sight becomes a problem? All these questions pour through McKenna’s mind as she faces this huge challenge.
The letters caught me off guard. I thought they were all the same until I started reading them. Some were from the past, others from the present, all woven seamlessly into the story. Showing well the hopes and fears that affect time.
The love the dog mushers (at least most of them) have for their dogs is very apparent. Their camaraderie shines through in all their actions. Makes me very much want to be a part of it. 🙂
Oh my poor son, trying to talk to me and I’m giggling away. Give me a moment I would gasp, he’d wait. Ask his question, or make his comment and then leave. Only to come back with another thought and I’d be giggling away again. I loved the humour in this middle school read. 🙂 The conversations, the people, the dogs… it all fit together well. I loved the brain storms that happened. A nicely written book that I have a hard time imagining people not enjoying thoroughly.
OH! And it would be an excellent resource if researching the dog mail train, or the pony express and other animal driven mail delivery systems.
Terry Lynn Johnson of Sled Dog School fame is an excellent author and writes books compelling to adults and middle schoolers alike.