From Publishers Weekly
George offers an up-close, nail-bitingly dramatic look at the sport of rock-climbing in this picture book adventure, but her unlikely plot scuttles the outing. Young Axel's dog, Grits, is stranded on a mountain ledge as a thunderstorm approaches. Under the supervision of his father, the leader of the climbing school, Axel braves the elements to rescue his pet. George has the lingo down pat, and infuses the tale with tension but therein lies the problem. Dag, Axel's father, calls a halt to the climb, but Axel goes ahead anyway (Dag had no choice, George ventures rather limply. His son was climbing). Axel reaches the dog just in time (Crackling electricity lifted the hair straight up on Axel's head and arms.... Sparks snapped from his ears to the rocks), but he faces even graver danger on his descent (No nut, carabiner, or rope was there to save him if he made a mistake). It's hard to imagine any adult allowing a child to risk his life in this manner, no matter how beloved the pet, and, in a picture book, this behavior seems implausible at best. Minor serves up a series of realistic action shots that capture the athleticism of the sport but are not always believable most notably, the picture showing the crackling electricity presents the boy and dog as relaxed and smiling even as the sparks fly. Ages 4-7.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-With help from his father, who runs a mountain-climbing school, and under pressure to beat a rapidly approaching lightning storm, Axel climbs a sheer cliff to rescue his stranded dog. George expertly weaves in many details about mountain climbing, safety, and the nature of storms without compromising the suspense of the story line. Unfamiliar words (carabiner, rappel) are made clear in context and illustrations, without wordy definitions. The realistic art advances the tension and effectively reveals Axel's prowess as a climber. After the dog is lowered from its perch by a rope and harness, the boy must make his way back down. He runs short of rope and must descend the final segment of the rock face in a free climb. Both father and son are relieved when he reaches the ground safely. This is an especially good read for adventure-loving, active, outdoor kids, or for anyone who just loves a good story.Dorian Chong, San Jose State University, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.