Title: Sled Dog School
Author: Terry Lynn Johnson
Major Themes: Dogs, Dogsledding, Family, Friendship, Alaska, Sled Dogs
Synopsis: Matt needs help passing his math class—will a sled dog school help him with that?
Sled Dog School is one of those books that I never would have taken a second look at were it not included in Sonlight Curriculum. If they choose a book, though, I usually figure it’s worth reading at least once. Sure enough, we found this book very interesting, with a good message, although there were a few concerns I had with it.
Matt had trouble at school. Numbers did not make sense to him, and he knew he would be failing math this year unless he was able to make a good grade on the Extra-Credit Project Mr. Moffat had assigned the class. But, what kind of business plan could he come up with? How could he make the numbers work? What on earth could he do to find the required three clients? All he knew anything about was his sled dogs!
The solution: A sled dog school! Matt soon had one client, and quickly realized that he didn’t know the first thing about teaching someone how to run sled dogs! When another person joined his “class” and things really got wild, he started learning a lot he never knew before about friendship. He still couldn’t figure out the numbers, though—what was he going to do about that?
Sled Dog School is a good story about dogs and dogsledding. I really enjoyed that part of it. I also really liked how Matt learned so much about life and doing what is important to you. He learned how to be and have a friend, and the importance of family. I really liked the passing mentions of the contrast between a loving family and one that is disconnected. That part wasn’t stressed much, but was definitely there. What I didn’t like was the lying. In Chapters 14 and 18, two of the children lied to get themselves and/or someone else out of a difficult situation. There was no indication made either time that the lying was wrong. Other than those two instances, the book is really good—but make sure that you talk to your child about those two scenes! It’s a good opportunity for a discussion about honesty; I like to use stories like this as a teaching moment. That’s a good reason to read books aloud—you find the problems such as this and can talk about a better way to handle the problems!
WARNING: See last paragraph.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12