Author: Johnson, Terry Lynn
McKenna, fourteen, is losing her vision to Stargardt's disease, but that will not stop her from competing in a rigorous new sled dog race through the Canadian wilderness.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 506445
Kirkus Reviews (+) (10/01/19)
School Library Journal (12/01/19)
Booklist (+) (11/15/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/15/2019 *Starred Review* Fourteen-year-old McKenna is about to embark on a dangerous mission to deliver a letter from her younger sister, Emma, to the Foundation for Fighting Blindness. Why dangerous? Because McKenna has entered a dog sled race that follows the Great Superior Mail Run—the trail used by nineteenth century mail runners that extends north through Ontario, taking its travelers along and on frozen Lake Superior and over treacherous mountain terrain. McKenna’s parents don’t know she, like Emma, has the genetic retinal disease Stargardt and her vision is failing. On her first day out, she befriends another teen, Guy, who’s become the eyes for his blind lead dog, and the pair supports one another along the three-day race. In a strong voice, McKenna describes her harrowing adventures on the trail, showing her fear but also her strength and determination. Readers will feel the cutting, icy wind and the obstacles on the trail, and they’ll hold their breath as they wait to see if McKenna stays safe. Like Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance (1994), Johnson shows the deep bonds and trust between musher and dogs, while also shedding light on a little-known genetic eye disorder. Johnson’s personal experience of living in Ontario with her own team of Alaskan huskies shines through this book, which bracingly captures the excitement and trepidation of McKenna’s adventure. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2019 Gr 5–8—Fourteen-year-old McKenna's sister, Emma, wants to race their sled dogs, but she's lost most of her vision due to Stargardt disease, so she asks McKenna to race in her stead. But McKenna agrees reluctantly—she has the disease, too, and her vision is slowly deteriorating. Still, she wants to deliver a letter to the Foundation for Fighting Blindness. The race begins with McKenna in the lead. She befriends a boy named Guy, and the two take shelter in a cave during a wind storm, wondering how they will finish the race. Guy and McKenna are well developed, and the action is captivating. The plot becomes sluggish at points; a shorter narrative might have been more powerful. Each chapter ends with fictionalized historical letters between figures based on the era of dogsled mail couriers from 1856 to the early 1900s, as well as letters between the contemporary characters. These parallel exchanges tie the chapters together well. VERDICT Recommended for libraries where hybrid contemporary and historical fiction is high in demand.—Jill Baetiong, Bloomingdale Public Library, IL - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.