Small for his age and lame, Jean-Paul, ten, is almost overwhelmed by life in the remote Alaskan wilderness where his father has been working for two years. Longing to be accepted by three teasing Inuit schoolmates, Jean-Paul agrees to join their club (the Ice Patrol), then succumbs to his fear of the dark when, during his initiation, he's shut into an igloo he believes to be haunted. His husky puppy, Sasha, digs the two of them out; they get lost in a blizzard, and only Sasha's body heat keeps Jean-Paul from freezing Since Chinook, one of the erstwhile tormentors, is responsible for Jean-Paul's rescue, this incident does lead to friendship. Eventually, Jean-Paul gains more self-confidence, so that when his mother unexpectedly gives birth during his father's absence he is able to cope with the emergency. While calling for some suspension of disbelief, especially concerning the behavior of the other boys and Sasha's precocious capabilities, the slow pace may be the biggest problem in this first novel. Still, Jean-Paul's successful rites of passage may strike a response in readers who enjoyed Gardiner's Stone Fox (1980), or may lead them into Paulsen's Dogsong (1985) and Woodsong (1990).