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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Exciting Dogsled Race Novel Perfect for MG Readers Who Dig Outdoor Adventures

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

McKenna Barney loves mushing.  Always has.  Under normal circumstances, she—and her eight sled dogs—would be chomping at the bit to enter an upcoming, 200-mile dogsled race commemorating the brave work of early Canadian mail carriers.  But these aren't normal times.  The 14-year-old is showing signs of Stargardt disease, the same degenerative vision condition that has been stealing her younger sister's sight.  McKenna doesn't want to admit her symptoms to her parents.  That would only cause more tension, more fighting, and more stress over money.  They're dealing with enough of that with one affected child.  How much worse would it be with two?

When 8-year-old Emma realizes what McKenna's hiding, she makes her sister a deal.  McKenna will run the race, carrying a letter from Emma to Foundation Fighting Blindness, asking the organization to help spread awareness about Stargardt disease.  If she wins, Emma will say nothing to their parents about McKenna's condition.  If she loses, Emma spills the beans.  McKenna's not ready for that, so she must win.  Even if it means navigating rough terrain, ice storms, animal attacks, and dogsled maintenance with low vision that's getting worse by the day.  And it will.  Can McKenna finish the race, let alone win?

Terry Lynn Johnson is an outdoor enthusiast with extensive dogsledding experience.  It shows in her newest MG novel, Dog Driven, which rings with authority.  The story includes lots of interesting information about mushing that's shared in a way that doesn't talk down to the reader or slow the plot's forward action.  It also stars a strong, but vulnerable heroine who has to learn to have confidence in her abilities, accept her limitations, and ask for help when needed.  Although the story stars several likable characters, the focus is really on the action-packed plot.  There are plenty of exciting twists and turns in McKenna's path (literally and figuratively) to keep the tale exciting.  Hand this one to kids who love the outdoors and are always up for a thrilling adventure.

(Readalikes:  This is the first book I've read by Johnson, but I know she's written others about dogsledding and other outdoor adventures.  Dog Driven also reminds me a bit of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and The Wild Lands by Paul Greci)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Dog Driven on Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. I'm really looking forward to reading this one. I thought Johnson did a really good job with Ice Dogs, her other dog/Alaska/survival book. :)

  2. I could see this being very popular with middle grade students.

  3. Sounds like an outstanding book for readers of this age. I never heard of that particular eye disease (probably because I am almost afraid to scare myself by reading about eye problems) but it sounds dreadful.


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