The best sled dog books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about sled dogs and why they recommend each book.

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The Call of the Wild

By Jack London,

Book cover of The Call of the Wild

This book is a children’s classic that I came to recently while researching my next book, which is told from the point of view (POV) of animals. Both the humans and animals endure incredibly harsh conditions—and in some cases horrible brutality—but I love it for its message. No matter what our background might be, whether we appear to have an easy start in life or not, we all encounter tough times. And the main character in The Call of the Wild, a dog called Buck, is lord of all in the beginning, but without warning, his life is plunged into extreme difficulty. The resilience that he develops through his journey shows us that real character is formed by the choices we make when it looks like we have no choice. 


Who am I?

I live in Nairobi, and my first book, Warrior Boy, is set here in Kenya. I live in a house that used to be an animal foster home. The previous owner left, but some of the non-human residents remained, including a gazelle, 25 tortoises, six cats, two dogs, a monkey, a snake, some fish, guinea pigs, and chickens. They all have such diverse personalities, and my children and I will often amuse each other by performing whole scenes involving the various animals and their voices. I could not help but write my next book, Forever Home, from their perspective. I hope you enjoy my book recommendations, all of which have helped me write my book. 


I wrote...

Warrior Boy

By Virginia Clay,

Book cover of Warrior Boy

What is my book about?

Ben and his mother, a documentary filmmaker, are embarking on a trip to his father's homeland of Kenya. Ben is terrified he won't be accepted by his estranged Maasai family, particularly as he has a crippling and shameful fear of blood. But when he arrives, he finds there is a lot more at stake than his pride... In a stunning, atmospheric adventure, Ben embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he sets out to claim his true place in the world.

Dog Driven

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Book cover of Dog Driven

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. 


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?

Diamond Willow

By Helen Frost,

Book cover of Diamond Willow

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!)


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?

Sled Dog School

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Book cover of Sled Dog School

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.


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?

Ice Dogs

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Book cover of Ice Dogs

I adore dogs and have always been interested in dog sledding, though I’ve never had a chance to do it. (But for a while I had two big dogs that I’d walk together with them pulling me along half the time, so my neighbors jokingly called us the Greenwater Dogsled Team after the name of my tiny mountain town.) This story about 14-year-old Victoria, who has her own dogsled team and tries to rescue the victim of a snowmobile accident, is gripping throughout. It just keeps getting more exciting, we care so much about her and her dogs, and the story even has a touch of romance along the trail. I can’t recommend it highly enough.


Who am I?

I grew up playing in the woods near my home and as an adult I enjoy backpacking, scuba diving, biking, snow-shoeing, and solo travel. When I was young, most books with exciting adventure stories in nature were about boys, but I know from experience that girls can do all the same things. And whether it’s set in a fantasy world or our own, I think adventures in nature help us learn who we are and how we connect to all that’s around us. That’s why my Farwalker trilogy features a strong, resourceful girl on a walking adventure, and it’s why I love to find and share other outdoorsy heroines with young readers. 


I wrote...

The Farwalker's Quest

By Joni Sensel,

Book cover of The Farwalker's Quest

What is my book about?

Ariel has always been curious, but when she and her best friend, Zeke, stumble upon a mysterious old telling dart, she becomes obsessed with figuring out what it means. Magically flying great distances and only revealing their messages to the intended recipient, telling darts haven't been used for years, and no one knows how they work. So when two strangers show up looking for the dart, Ariel and Zeke realize that their discovery is not only interesting, but very dangerous. The telling dart, and the strangers, lead them to a journey more perilous and encompassing than either can imagine, and in the process both Zeke and Ariel find their true calling.

Animal Assisted Interventions

By Sara Karlberg, Helena Eriksson,

Book cover of Animal Assisted Interventions: Professionals Embrace the Power of the Dog

This book moved me to tears after just reading a couple of pages. The authors describe lots of cases where dogs (and their handlers) have helped people in their lives – calming students, giving elderly people hope, and making them want to do things again. If you want to work together with your dog and help other people in f ex schools, old age care centers, etc. this is a great book. It takes you through the basics of what the dog needs to know, how to teach it, and lots of things to think about when you choose a dog trainer to help you educate your dog.


Who am I?

I’m a Swedish dog trainer and author who love training dogs in a fun, positive, and force-free way. I got my first Golden retriever in 2005 and learnt a lot about dog training and especially clicker training. When a friend gave me a dummy I really started to enjoy gun dog training and realized that there weren’t many people who trained gun dogs in a force-free way so I took all my knowledge from my reward-based obedience training and translated it into gun dog training, discussed training methods with a lot of people, held classes in force-free gun dog training and eventually collected all my thoughts and training advice into a book together with my friend Lena Gunnarsson.


I wrote...

Retrieving for All Occasions

By Elsa Blomster, Lena Gunnarsson,

Book cover of Retrieving for All Occasions

What is my book about?

The book is about force free gun dog training. However, it’s not just for gun dogs, any pet dog could find lots of useful ideas on recall, stopping at a distance, walking to heel and training principles that can be used no matter what you want to teach your dog. For people interested in gun dog training you’ll of course also find lots of training advice on how to teach your dog a great delivery to hand, casting, marked retrieves, and so on. Who wouldn’t want to be able to stop their dog 100 meters away – knowing that the dog stops or comes back because it knows that it is more worthwhile to be with their handler than to run off on their own?

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

By Blair Braverman,

Book cover of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North

I love cold, northern places and dogs, and, if you haven’t already noticed, warts-and-all stories about women finding strength they didn’t know they had in the wilderness. Blair Braverman’s memoir checks all these boxes. As a teenager, she goes to a folk school in the Norwegian Arctic and learns to work with sled dogs, something she later continues as a guide in Alaska. (Braverman is now a professional musher and has run the Iditarod.) The book’s subtitle is Chasing Fear and Finding Home In the Great White North, and Braverman is unsparing in her exploration of fear rooted in both the human and natural world. I read this book on a series of airplanes in one long travel day, and I’m still reminded of it every time I see Braverman’s delightful Twitter stories about her dogs.


Who am I?

In my third novel, Great Circle, a fictional aviator named Marian Graves disappears while trying to fly around the world north-south in 1950. While researching and writing, I became a travel journalist, partly so I could follow my character into far-flung, rugged corners of the world. Traveling, I encountered people who lead truly adventurous lives, and I started to seek out riskier experiences myself. I swam with humpback whales, tracked snow leopards in the Himalayas, and journeyed across huge seas to Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. I still don’t consider myself a full-fledged adventurer, but I love reading about women contending with the challenges of wild places and their own internal landscapes.


I wrote...

Great Circle

By Maggie Shipstead,

Book cover of Great Circle

What is my book about?

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. After encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny.

A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates – and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times – collide. 

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