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Togo Hardcover – October 14, 2002


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Togo + The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail + Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 420L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399233814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399233814
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 11.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 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
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Robert J. Blake was born and raised in New Jersey. As a boy he made "tons of drawings" and used up thousands of crayons. He says, "I even did a huge crayon mural on our hallway that was not artistically appreciated by my parents."

Sharing one large room with two older brothers was "total chaos," he recalls. "We had lots of animals - dogs, ducks, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, turtles, snakes, birds, fish, and even two flying squirrels. And, oh yes, a tarantula. I think my parents were afraid to come up to our room."

Mr. Blake now resides in New Jersey with his wife and son. He works in his studio, a renovated barn on his property. Mr. Blake says, "I would like to paint in every state in the United States and in every country in the world."

"I hope my books lend the reader a feeling, and emotion, a new point of view, a new way to look at something that they might not have experienced otherwise."


Robert J. Blake was born and raised in New Jersey. As a boy he made "tons of drawings" and used up thousands of crayons. He says, "I even did a huge crayon mural on our hallway that was not artistically appreciated by my parents."

Sharing one large room with two older brothers was "total chaos," he recalls. "We had lots of animals - dogs, ducks, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, turtles, snakes, birds, fish, and even two flying squirrels. And, oh yes, a tarantula. I think my parents were afraid to come up to our room."

Mr. Blake now resides in New Jersey with his wife and son. He works in his studio, a renovated barn on his property. Mr. Blake says, "I would like to paint in every state in the United States and in every country in the world."

"I hope my books lend the reader a feeling, and emotion, a new point of view, a new way to look at something that they might not have experienced otherwise."


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I bought this book after borrowing it from the library and reading it with my children.
Zeriah Quest
Robert Blake does his homework, writes a beautiful story and even paints the illustrations in this beautiful children's book.
Carolyn Rowe Hill
Beautiful illustrations about the 1925 Serum run in Alaska -- this is the "Balto" story, about another dog, Togo.
M. Heiss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Robert N. Lane on September 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I was growing up in Seattle there was an old man that lived in our neighborhood, he was a former dogsled racer that had retired to the Ballard area. I used to stop and visit him after school. His wife would give me cookies and milk and Leonhard would tell me stories about his days in Nome.

One story he always told was about the great deeds that Togo, his favorite lead dog, had done. Togo had saved Leonhard's life on numerous occaisons.

Leonhard told me the story about the serum run into Nome during the diptheria epidemic. As he and Togo returned to Nome after a run of over 150 miles in one day they were met by someone coming out from Nome with Balto at the lead. Leonhard handed off the serum and rested his dogs. Then Balto got all the glory as he returned to town with the serum. Balto ran only a few miles from Nome and was considered a "scrub" freight dog by Leonhard.

It broke Leonhard's heart - he always told me how much it upset him when they put a statue in Central Park to Balto, and they even decked it out in Togo's colors (ribbons).

I was so thrilled to see Robert Blake's release of Togo. I immediately bought a copy and as I read it, it was as if Leonhard was telling me the story again as he had so many years ago in his living room in Ballard. Blake's extensive research is "right on" and he has done a wonderful job of retelling the story as it actually occurred.

I highly recommend Togo to anyone interested in what really happened in the 1924 Serum Race.

Robert Lane

Ashland, OR
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By N Zee on July 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Togo is a great book for children to learn about courage and determination. A must for dog lovers! I highly recommend this book for any child.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Togo is a beautifully written book for children. The character of this special dog shines through these pages to inspire young and old. Also a great read for adults who love animal stories.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Pruitt on February 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is beautiful. My son and I are following the Iditarod race electronically. In order to understand this race, we were looking into the original Great Serum Race and information about dog sledding. This is an eloquently told story based on facts that is fitting for an elementary student. The artwork is fantastic and helps pull you into the brutal winter conditions that is tied to the story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Deeken on March 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful true story about those who should should not be forgotten. "Togo" is a beautiful example of the blessings of sacrifice, love, devotion, and perseverence. Truely a story to touch your heart.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sue McDowell on October 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is visually beautiful book that tells a beautiful story. This is a story of courage and strength. Togo's story needs to be told. I even purchased a copy for my son's elementary school library.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Rowe Hill on April 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Robert Blake does his homework, writes a beautiful story and even paints the illustrations in this beautiful children's book. Togo is a heart-rending story about the Siberian husky some folks believe was given short shrift after the Great Serum Race of 1925. Togo, his handler, Leonhard Seppala, and his team of brave sled dogs ran a total of 260 miles, farther than any team of dogs during the dramatic race against time to get diphtheria vaccine to Nome in January, 1925.

The book includes a map of the trail that begins in Anchorage where the serum is loaded onto a train and taken to the end of the line in Nenana. There the dogsleds take over. Seppala and his team leave Nome headed for Nulato, 300 miles from Nome, where they are to pick up the serum and take it back to Nome. They race through a raging winter storm for three days. On the fourth day, they almost miss the musher they're to meet because Seppala can't see or hear in the storm. However, Togo's ears shoot up, and Seppala finally hears the other musher's voice. Another team ends up taking the serum the last leg to Nome, and this is where the controversy begins.

The other musher, Gunnar Kaasen, and his dog, Balto, owned and trained by Seppala, made the final leg of the journey, also with much difficulty. A hero's welcome awaited them in Nome, and Kaasen's and Balto's names became well known around the world. Togo gave his all to get the serum to Nome, and never raced again. Balto spent his last days at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, along with his sled mates, and a statue of him was erected in New York's Central Park.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I once thought Balto (He is a hero too) was the hero of the Serum Run, but now, I know it's Togo. All those brave dogs deserve recognition, but Togo's story deserves to be better-known. Go, Togo!
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