Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book: Legend of the Ghost Dog

Legend of the Ghost Dog by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Scholastic Press; 2012. 208 pages.

Moving to Nome, Alaska for two weeks is not high on the list of exciting things for any twelve-year-old - especially when you move there with your dad and your eight-year-old brother. Anita's dad had this idea to go on location so he can interview the locals for a book he's writing, so both the kids were taken along since their Mom had to go on a business trip to Japan. At least for this trip, "Tee" as she is sometimes called, was able to take her beagle, Henry to keep her company; it was on a walk exploring the wilderness that Henry got Tee into trouble when he led her to the ruins of an old cabin. Tee soon learns the local legend about what happened at that cabin and along with her new friend, Quin, daughter of the assistant her dad hired to help work on the book, she goes out to discover the truth. What sort of trouble can two girls, a dog and a little brother get into out in the wilds of Alaska while on the trial of a ghost dog?

Readers are treated to both sides of the story - one set in the past, laying out the events and one in the present, trying to solve the mystery of the ghost dog and missing girl. Elizabeth Cody Kimmel did a good job twining the story seamlessly between the past and present. The friendship between the girls is like any other when kids are thrown together by adults - hesitant at first then closer as some sort of test is passed and similar interests are discovered. Kimmel does a wonderful job inserting the character of Jack, the little brother, who like any younger sibling gets in the way and yet must be watched over.

Overall, I enjoyed this book because of its believability - the setting in Alaska made it seem as if you could be there along with Tee exploring the woods, and the ties to Nome's history with the diphtheria epidemic and need for dog mushers to bring the medicine along what is now the trail for the Iditarod was a very nice touch. The way the mystery of a local family's tragedy and search for answers was interwoven with Tee's struggles with her own family in present day made Tee seem more real. Finding out what the ghost dog was trying to tell them really sends chills down your spine.

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