Historical fiction for dog lovers.
Nome, Alaska, 1900, is a hotbed of lawless gold-rush fever and no place for an unaccompanied woman and her 11-year-old daughter, but that is exactly where Sally and her mother find themselves. The story is told from the point of view of Murphy, an abused sled dog who runs away from his owner in Nome and wanders homeless and hungry until Sally, newly arrived from Seattle, encounters him and convinces Mama that Murphy would be good protection for them. Murphy happily settles into his new life as a loved member of the family, and he does his best to protect them, but he is plagued by thoughts of cowardice brought on by his previous owner’s mistreatment. As summer ends, Mama makes plans to leave, finding life in Nome too difficult. But Sally has plans of her own. Taking Murphy, she runs away to find gold, thinking to ease the working grind of her Mama’s life. Readers will feel the thrill of survival on the tundra as Murphy saves Sally from a grizzly, an avalanche and unscrupulous men. Equal parts heart-wrenching and -warming, the story never slides into cloying sentimentality, and its message of the value of love over greed is as subtle as it is powerful.
An adventure-filled tale set within a fascinating period of history. (historical note, bibliography, further reading) (Historical fiction. 7-10)