Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Akiak A tale from the Iditarod by Robert J Blake

I recently saw a copy of Little Devils by Robert J Blake and I was captivated by the wonderful illustrations and story about our little Tasmanian devils - unlikely heroes for a story especially by an American author.  I looked for more books by Robert J Blake and found Akiak. This book appealed to me because as a young child I loved books by Jack London such as Call of the Wild and White Fang.

Akiak is based on a true story. There are maps on the opening pages showing the route for the Iditarod Race.

"A musher must stop and sign in at each check point ... take a twenty-four-hour stop at some point during the race ... An injured, stick or fatigued dog may be dropped at a designated dog drop ... A dropped dog may not be put back in harness and may not run next to the team."

Akiak does not know all these rules.  This is her eight attempt at this race. "She had bought them in fifth, third and second, but had never won."

Everything is going well until sadly on day four Akiak is seen to be limping. Her pawpads are damaged. Mick reluctantly leaves Akiak to be flown home. Of course this cannot happen. Akiak needs to race, she needs to win. She escapes from the handlers and heads off alone to catch up with the race. The race volunteers know she will stick to the trail but all their attempts to catch her fail. By day nine she is just two hours behind her team. "A crowd lined the trail to watch her run through the town." She finally catches up and while she cannot go back into the lead harness she can ride in the sled! "As sure as if she had been in the lead position, Akiak won the Iditarod Race."

This is a perfect book for dog lovers.  I would pair Akiak with Stone Fox.  I am very keen to read more books about husky dogs by Robert J Blake especially Togo, Swift and Painter and Ugly.

Read some reviews
Carol Hurst
Publishers Weekly

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