To fulfill a school project, an 11-year-old boy starts a sled dog school with unexpected results.
Matt lives off the grid in Michigan with his parents and younger sister and wishes his family were more mainstream. His stay-at-home father knits and does pottery, and Matt is derisively called “Smokey” by his classmates for his woodstove-smoke smell. Matt is also doing poorly in math class even though he solves practical problems easily outside of school. One thing Matt does love about his life is the sled dogs his family raises and runs. For a school extra-credit project designed to teach business and accounting skills, Matt starts Sled Dog School. His two clients, both about his age, have vastly differing abilities and personalities. Tubbs, blithely uncoordinated, nonetheless has an enthusiastic personality, and his approbation of Matt’s family life makes Matt begin to see it with more appreciative eyes. Overachiever Alex is intelligent and naturally adept, but she is condescending—until a crisis brings all three together. Themes of friendship and problem-solving are slipped effortlessly into the funny and fresh plot, and authentic off-the-grid details bring the story to life. Everyone in the story appears to be white.
A tale of loyalty and friendship—with a strong dose of validation for readers who learn from doing rather than books—that hits all the right notes. (Fiction. 9-12)