Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sled Dog Trails

Sled Dog Trails

by Mary Shields

Illustrations by Nancy van Veenen

ISBN: 0882402587

127 pages

paperback - $8.95

Mike found this book at our local Friends of the Library bookstore. We were looking through the traveling section, and he found this on the shelf above where I was looking. An unexpected bonus of having a tall boyfriend! Immediately, I could tell I was going to like this book. Her pigtail braids, her frank smile, and the cool illustrations on the bottom of the cover all signaled that this is a person whose life stories will interest me.

Then I look at the inside cover and see this:

And it's signed by the author!

The book is in great shape. The pages aren't yellowed and the spine is sturdy. There is a small black smudge on the back cover, but it would probably come off with some Goo Gone. The bookstore is usually pretty pricey for my standards - a paperback in ok condition is at least $1.00 and usually more. So I was surprised to see that this perfect condition, signed paperback was only 50 cents!! Woot!

The writing in this book is excellent. Here is a taste from the Introduction:

There is comfort in having a piece of home with you, one hundred miles from the nearest cabin in the middle of a February snowstorm in Alaska. The wood of this sled once stood as the straightest-growing birch tree, down by the creek near the home cabin. For 50 years the sapling reached toward the sun and listened to the wind, but swayed only a few feet from where its roots took hold. Fancy that wooden spirit enjoying all this exploring, all this traveling, taking in the sights and sounds of foreign forests. Perhaps at night, long after you are asleep, your vagabond sled creaks tales to the eager seedlings encircling your camp.

Yes. I like this book very much. The first half of this book is my favorite. Mary talks about discovering her love of Alaska and dog sledding. She also talks about how she became the first woman to complete the Iditarod. The last half has some interesting sled dog trips, but for me the excitement was in the first half. Maybe I will enjoy the second half more once I have spent some time in Alaska.

Another wonderful suprise about this book is the illustrations by Nancy van Veenen.

They too, are not as present in the later half of the book. But I enjoyed them very much wherever they appeared.

Overall: Worth 50 cents and worth the cover price. A book to buy and love, and maybe someday follow the trails Mary made.

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