Customer Reviews: The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Step-Into-Reading)
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on October 26, 2008
I can't be the only Mom that gets frustrated by this. I go to buy early reading books and encounter ONLY TV- and movie- marketed characters in the books. I would like better choices.

Anyway, Balto was the only Step-3 book in the store that did NOT have a Princess or SpongeBob on the cover, so we got it. I expected to get some flack from the child who is afraid of dogs, but even he liked it fairly well.

Balto is a sled dog in 1925 who participates in a relay. The purpose is to bring medicine to an Alaskan town with a diphtheria epidemic, carrying it through a driving blizzard and terrible conditions. Balto had the second-to-last leg of the relay, but when it was time to hand off to another team, the other team was not there. So Balto and his team kept going. Since he was the dog who made it into town with the medicine, he got the credit for the whole adventure! We talked about the other dog teams and drivers who had to come through the deep snow, and how all those teams working together got the job done.

Here is what the first grader liked best about the story (his words):
+ There is a map. Maps are good.
+ The dog kept going.
+ The doctor helped the sick children.
+ I like the picture of the statue of Balto.
+ Balto was a hero.

Here is what the Mom liked in the story:
+ It would have been easy to quit, but the driver and his sled team kept going, despite miserable conditions.
+ The words were just challenging enough.
+ I liked the map, too.
+ The illustrations are wonderful. The book has fairly many pages (48), but the pictures keep up the excitement.
+ There really is a statue of Balto in Central Park, and you can google it to see the real statue (of course, if you live near NYC, you can see it live!)

As far as reading levels go, I would say level 3 is a pretty good judgment. My son was reading phonics readers and step 1 readers over the summer, and his confidence is building. This book did not frustrate him, but it took him a while to sound out some of the words. I had to help with the names of some towns and complicated words (Anchorage, diphtheria). The rest, he did himself.
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"This is a true story about a very brave dog."
It's 1925 in the sub-zero, treacherous region of Nome, Alaska. Two children stricken with diphtheria need medicine, but the train that carries it gets stuck in the snow, 700 miles from Nome. The town's only hope is a 21-team dog sled relay to deliver the precious medicine. Balto, the head dog on the second to the last run, leads his team through blinding snowdrifts and over a frozen river, and around cracking ice, and reaches Nome almost ten days before the expected arrival. He becomes famous: In New York City, thousands of miles away, a statue of Balto is put up in Central Park.
This is an exciting book, with soft, slighted muted illustrations and short sentences, is an excellent book (especially for adventure and dog lovers) for the reader in from around grades 1 through 3. The suspenseful narration and the real heroics of Balto and his driver (along with the 20 other dog teams) make for a dramatic story. 48 pages, includes map of the trail to Nome.
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on October 10, 2000
I thought the book was appropriate for the language of most 2nd graders. It was also entertaining and adventurous. The students could not wait to read what was going to happen next. The plot was easy to follow.
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on May 2, 2005
Yeah, I know. Some reviewer called Balto a fraud. He wasn't. He really did lead his sled team through 53 miles in subzero temperatures, though he wasn't the bravest dog ever(Togo was), so I took one star off. But his story deserves to be told just as much as Togo's, and yes, I love that husky Togo and his bravery (He lead 260 miles). It is 1925. There's an epidemic of diphtheria sweeping through Nome, and sled dogs are needed to deliver desperately needed serum. But in the subzero temperatures, will they make it? This is an excellent introduction to the Iditarod for children. (Oh, and by the way, Balto didn't try to claim all the glory. He was forced to run, though he was considered too 'weak' to do so. I call that animal abuse. He certainly proved he wasn't 'weak' since he ran 53 miles! Gunnar Kaasen even abandoned him to a dime museum later on! BAD pet keeper!)
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VINE VOICEon November 1, 2006
...can keep these packs of hardy huskies and malamutes from delivering the antitoxin to Nome during the 1925 Diptheria Epidemic!

No train can get through due to the snow. The train that was originally transporting the medicine got mired in snow, more than 700 miles from its destination. Only a sled team of hardy dogs can reach the stricken town. Balto, the lead dog on one of the latter legs of that fateful run led a team of hardy malamutes and huskies some 53 miles. He led the team through adverse weather and land conditions including blizzards and a froxen river. The curly tailed dog is credited for seeing the medicine through; it is on his run that the medicine arrived 10 days ahead of schedule.

This book will delight and excite young readers who will wait with baited breath (even though they know the malamute team will reach the town like the Calvary). The delightful illustrations make a good thing even better. The history of the hardy Eskimo dog, the sled dog driver and the dog teams will provide a part of history that will be revived and discussed for a long time to come. Adding the map of the dog sled trail was an excellent teaching device.

Matthew Wilders' 1983 "Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride" and McFadden & Whitehead's 1979 runaway train "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" could be the soundtracks for this book.
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on March 17, 2006
I teach an afterschool literacy program for children in 3rd-6th grades. My 3rd grade struggling readers loved this story! However, you need to give them the background information ahead of time for them to get the most out of this story. We looked at copies of the original news stories and pictures of the real Balto, read books about Alaska and the Iditarod Race, and learned about "dogs with jobs" before we opened this book. The easy reading level and great illustrations made this a joy to read for my reluctant readers. They wrote a "missing chapter" of the dogs' journey to Nome. Fantastic!
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on September 28, 2015
Great book for primary grades. A true story that requires some explanation of the situation. But then the excitement of the story really takes hold of children's imagination. By the end they are so proud of Balto. I love it when a story grabs a child's heart that way.
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on February 27, 2016
This is a great little story - and the best part is that it's actually a true story of a very brave dog! He was the lead dog in a dog sled team in Alaska and they had to go to a town many, many, miles away to get medicine for two very sick children (back in the day) who had diphtheria and would have died without it. There was a blizzard and some of the other dogs in the team perished. I read it to my 4 year old grandson who loves animals and he loved this story.
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on February 6, 2015
The True Story of Balto is about a courageous, intelligent, and heroic dog who transports medication to children in desperate need. He faces some of the worst winter conditions imaginable on his journey.

I purchased the Kindle version of this book for a project my second grader has to complete. I love that the book is written in a manner that is easy-to-understand. The illustrations make it more engaging for young readers, while the chapter set up prepares them for the transition to full-blown chapter books.

My son and I both loved this book. We're a dog-loving bunch here, so this book really captivated us and touched our hearts. We've spent quite a bit of time researching Balto since we finished the story, and my son has shown a keen interest in this wonderful canine hero. Tonight, we intend to watch the Balto animated children's movie together.

Highly recommended for young readers.
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on June 14, 2015
Such a great story for all children in pre-K who are at the age to appreciate pets. I wish the story was longer as Balto's journey was a real struggle and a journey that required real stamina and courage. Perhaps this book for pre-pre K and then the movie for pre-K and K. All books on the courage and love animals demonstrate should be the books read in early childhood classes-------leaving Kermit and Big Bird for home television watching. School should be a learning experience at all times. Stories of courageous animals are the best stories for young children before the age of six Both home and school are good venues for these learning experiences.
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