From Jack London's Call of the Wild to Gary Paulsen's many tales, the relationship between humans and dogs as they face the harsh northern climes has captivated readers. Recapitulating that theme is Blake's story of the 1,151-mile Iditarod from Anchorage to Nome; Mick's lead dog is Akiak, who pounds through wind and across snow, never getting lost. Then, on Day Four, ice jams up one of Akiak's pawpads and she is taken out of the race and almost flown home. She twists free of her handler before the plane takes off, pushes through blizzards and past checkpoints, sticking to the trail and eventually meeting up with Mick; according to the rules, Akiak cannot be harnessed up again but she does prevent her mistress from taking the wrong trail before climbing aboard the sled for the ride to a first-place finish. Blake's naturalistic icy blue paintings chronicle Akiak's independent race across lone landscapes, burrowing in snowdrifts for shelter and escaping well-meaning trail volunteers. The rugged style translates well from the ocean setting of Spray (1996) to the untamed Alaskan terrain; the textured slathers of oil paint in repeated cold tones are perfect for icy plains, tracks in the snow, and rooftop icicles. Akiak's efforts may not constitute life-and-death drama, but young readers will cheer the heroic dog on in this satisfying outdoor adventure.