The best middle grade sled-dog books

Who am I?

Sled dog racing? I knew nothing about it most of my life. I became interested after writing a nonfiction book on the history of sled dog racing. So interested, I wrote a novel on it—Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners. I attended local sprint races and even traveled to Alaska to see the start of the Iditarod. I learned so much watching the mushers prepare and the excitement of the dogs. I still enjoy watching the Iditarod, the Yukon Quest, and local sprint races. I’m excited to share a list of great sled-dog books. What I like about my list is that all the books are so different! 


I wrote...

Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

By Natalie Rompella,

Book cover of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

What is my book about?

For years, Ana and Lily have been looking forward to writing and selling their own cookbook for their middle school project. So when her teacher assigns her to a different partner, Ana is devasted.

Worse, Ana’s partner, the new girl from Alaska, wants to do their project on sled dog racing in the Midwest. There’s no way Ana can tell Dasher about her obsessive-compulsive disorder, or why even watching Dasher work with drooly, germy dogs makes Ana want to wash her hands. Then Dasher sprains her ankle, and the only way to avoid getting an F on their project is for Ana to take her spot in the race. Can Ana learn to mush—and overcome her anxiety—in time to save her friendships, finish her project, and compete in the sled dog race?

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The books I picked & why

Dog Driven

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Book cover of Dog Driven

Why did I love this book?

Terry Lynn Johnson has written many books on sled dogs. Dog Driven does a great job of sharing what a junior race is like: the competitiveness, the setbacks, and the thrill of the sport. It also addresses facing an issue head-on. In this book, the main character is struggling with worsening eyesight. I think middle grade readers will relate to feeling apprehensive when facing something difficult. 

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dog Driven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Ice Dogs comes a riveting adventure about a musher who sets out to prove her impaired vision won't hold her back from competing in a rigorous sled race through the Canadian wilderness. Perfect for fans of Gary Paulsen. McKenna Barney is trying to hide her worsening eyesight and has been isolating herself for the last year. But at the request of her little sister, she signs up for a commemorative mail run race in the Canadian wilderness - a race she doesn't know if she can even see to run. Winning would mean getting her disease…


Diamond Willow

By Helen Frost,

Book cover of Diamond Willow

Why did I love this book?

This is my new favorite book. It takes place in a remote town in Alaska where residents must travel by dog sled. Each page has a poem written in a diamond shape that contains a hidden message. Not many books have such a unique format. But what really made the book exciting were the many twists and turns in the plot. (I also learned about diamond willow, but I won’t spoil it for you!)

By Helen Frost,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diamond Willow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's
more to me than
most people
see.

Twelve-year-old Willow would rather blend in than stick out. But she still wants to be seen for who she is. She wants her parents to notice that she is growing up. She wants her best friend to like her better than she likes a certain boy. She wants, more than anything, to mush the dogs out to her grandparents' house, by herself, with Roxy in the lead. But sometimes when it's just you, one mistake can have frightening consequences . . . And when Willow stumbles, it takes a surprising group of…


Book cover of Dashing Through the Snow, the Story of the Jr. Iditarod

Why did I love this book?

Dashing Through the Snow tells readers what it’s like to compete in the Jr. Iditarod. This nonfiction book was a great resource when I was doing research for my book. Not only was the text great, but there were photos showing various aspects of the race, including what it’s like to sleep on the side of a sled-dog trail. Anyone who’s interested in the sport and hasn’t heard of a “gangline” or a “dropped dog” will find the definitions in the glossary useful. 

By Sherry Shahan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dashing Through the Snow, the Story of the Jr. Iditarod as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2005 Mondo Book Shop Level R -- Dashing through the Snow: The Story of the Jr. Iditarod (Paperback)(10"x8.5"x0.15") Written & Photographed by Sherry Shahan ***ISBN-13: 9781593367145 ***32 Pages


Sled Dog School

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Book cover of Sled Dog School

Why did I love this book?

Yes, I chose a second book by Terry Lynn Johnson. The two books I chose are quite different in both subject matter and tone though. This book is a light-hearted story about eleven-year-old Matt who starts his own business for his school project. He chooses sled-dog training. I’ve always loved books about kid-run businesses, and this one has a great cast of characters.

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sled Dog School as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eleven-year-old Matt is struggling in school and he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade. But what is he even good at? The only thing he truly loves is his team of dogs, and so Matt's Sled Dog School is born. Teaching dogsledding should be easy, right? But people, just like dogs, can be unpredictable. And sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is admit they need help. Like Terry Lynn Johnson's popular Ice Dogs, Sled Dog School is about overcoming adversity, finding your strengths, and your friends, and following your passions. AGES:…


Balto of the Blue Dawn

By Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca (illustrator),

Book cover of Balto of the Blue Dawn

Why did I love this book?

This sled dog book is both fantasy and historical fiction—a truly unique genre mix. Jack and Annie travel back to Nome in 1925 during the diphtheria epidemic to help with the sled dog relay to deliver the serum. The Author’s Note at the end tells a bit more about the history of the serum race. This book is part of the Magic Tree House’s Merlin Mission series, which is for readers who want a bit more of a challenge. 

By Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Balto of the Blue Dawn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 bestselling chapter book series of all time celebrates 25 years with new covers and a new, easy-to-use numbering system!

The magic tree house has returned and it’s taking Jack and Annie back in time to Alaska, 1925. There they meet Balto, a jet-black Siberian husky destined to save victims of the diphtheria epidemic. But the trail isn’t easy, and Balto is going to need Jack and Annie’s help!

Formerly numbered as Magic Tree House #54, the title of this book is now Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #26: Balto of the Blue Dawn.

Did you know that there’s…


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One Giant Leap

By Ben Gartner,

Book cover of One Giant Leap

Ben Gartner Author Of The Eye of Ra

New book alert!

Who am I?

I love to read a good action-adventure story. I’ve also written a few. And I know that no matter how high the stakes, if there’s no heart in the characters then there’s very little engagement to make it any more memorable than a temporary thrill. I love thrills, but the stories that stick with you after the excitement of the moment is over, those are the true gems. Besides the fun of reading that type of book, maybe you even learn something about yourself or the world and come out a wee bit wiser than when you went in. And isn’t that a fantastic use of our imaginative powers?!

Ben's book list on new action-packed middle grade with heart

What is my book about?

I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.

Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It’s a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!

By Ben Gartner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Giant Leap as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.

Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It’s a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!

Praise for…


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