Rachel, nine, lives in rural Alaska, where her mother runs an in-home beauty parlor and her dad does carpentry--except during the all-important dogsled races in which he competes. Rachel loves the dogs, and when champion Ruff has pups, Dad lets her have the runt; by book's end, ""Silver"" has responded to her good care and bids fair to be a fine lead dog like his mother. Meanwhile, Dad has come in second in the brief ""Rondy"" and third in the 1000-mile Iditarod, while (in the book's only tense moment) Silver has been kidnapped by a mother wolf and retrieved, in dark and snow, by Rachel. A simple, direct style and well-chosen details that are certain to appeal to kids (14 dogs in a motel room, with moose stew thawing in the bathtub) make this a charming, unassuming narrative that authentically conveys its setting. Marchesi's soft, black-and-white illustrations make freckle-faced Rachel and her dogs even more appealing.