Reviews for Togo

by Robert Blake

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

K-Gr 5-Togo is a spirited puppy, determined to be a sled dog even though his owner, Leonhard Seppala, does not think he has what it takes. He's small for a Siberian husky, and much too independent. When he is only eight months old, he breaks through a fence and finds his owner's team on a supply run; it takes only a day for him to prove himself as a musher. Soon the young dog is leading his team in races, and breaking speed records every time. When Togo is eight years old, Seppala is asked to make an emergency relay run to pick up a serum that can stop the diphtheria epidemic threatening the entire population of Nome, AK. Togo leads his team over 350 miles through storms, suffering terribly, and with almost no rest. While it is another dog, Balto, that became famous for the serum run of 1925, he actually led the final team in the relay, running 53 miles. Many people feel that Togo is an unsung hero, and so will readers, who will feel the terrible cold depicted chillingly in Blake's paintings. The urgency and desperation come across clearly in both the dramatic text and the full-page impressionistic paintings. The dogs are not anthropomorphized, but their expressions are haunting. Pair this first-rate historical adventure with Natalie Standiford's The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Random, 1989) or with Blake's Akiak: A Tale from the Iditarod (Philomel, 1997).-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The cover of this long picture book is a showstopper, with the entire spread showing just the face of a snowy dog with intense, pale-blue eyes, along with the single title word and the author's name. Who could resist opening it to find out who Togo is? In a dramatic story based on a real event, Blake (Fledgling, 2000, etc.) recounts the historic rescue mission undertaken in 1925 Alaska by Leonhard Seppala and his lead sled dog, Togo. Seppala, owner of the fastest sled-dog team in Alaska, lived in Nome during an outbreak of diphtheria, and he was asked to travel by dogsled to a town 300 miles away to pick up serum to fight the diphtheria outbreak. Togo, a brilliant, perceptive dog, successfully led Seppala's team during this mission, which was accomplished in just a few days. The dog that finished the journey, Balto, is the dog most children know, but Togo made that finish possible and the entire run inspired today's Iditarod. Blake begins with the heartwarming story of Togo's younger days, when he proved himself a worthy lead dog, followed by the dramatic, harrowing tale of the desperate rush for the serum. ("Diphtheria" and "serum" aren't defined in the text, but their meanings should be clear.) Blake's arresting oil paintings add greatly to the well-told tale, capturing the personality of the special dog. Some paintings show panoramic snow-covered vistas, others show the dogs in action, with thick white strokes of paint often representing the falling snow. A map on the endpapers enables the reader to follow the progress of the rescue mission, which they will-breathlessly. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 2^-4. Can you name the most heroic sled dog in history? It's not Balto, as Blake points out; the team that Balto led covered only the final, 53-mile leg of the rescue mission that carried diphtheria serum to beleaguered Nome in 1925. Honors might more justly go to Balto's kennel-mate, Togo, lead dog of a team that carried the life-saving cargo 350 miles, through deadly weather and over dangerously weak ice. Blake takes a few liberties with the accompanying text, using some invented dialogue and lines such as, "But Togo didn't want to be a pet." But he paints a vivid word-picture of bitter, deadly conditions and the grueling effort required to surmount them, reinforcing it with dramatic art that brings out the textures of snow and fur, and the spirit of the small, indomitable dog as it forges across rugged, frozen landscapes. Blake concludes with a brief account of his on-site research for information; his compelling tribute is sandwiched between endpaper maps tracing the mission's entire route. --John Peters

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This is a fictionalized account of a 1925 diphtheria serum run from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. The story focuses on Togo, the lead sled dog on one of the teams. It's due to Togo's determination and strength that his team logs the most miles in the grueling relay and ensures the delivery of the life-saving serum. The dramatic telling is enhanced by the textured oil paintings, which depict a realistic frozen landscape. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.