Vicky's mom doesn't seem to understand her or the love she has for her dogs. Dad is the only one who understood, but now that he is gone Vicky has no one but her dogs and dog sledding. Vicky wants to ensure that her dogs are the team to beat this year for the White Wolf race, so despite her mom's refusal to take her, Vicky sets out on her sled toward Cook's dog yard to discuss his race leaders. Vicky believes she is prepared, because dad gave her all his knowledge about dog sledding, living in winter conditions, trapping and what supplies to bring. Vicky gathers everything she needs and heads out hoping to make it to the yard before the snow starts to fall. Despite everything, Vicky becomes lost, and then finds a snowmobile crashed into a tree with Chris bleeding from his wounds. Chris thinks he knows the way he came, so Vicky follows his directions. When the two get more hopelessly lost, it will take everything they and Vicky's dogs have to get them back to safety.
Johnson's knowledge of dog sledding and life during the winter in Alaska are very evident, everything from cold snow, to freezing hands and feet. It's the perfect kind of book for a cold winter day, but reading from the comfort of your home. Ice Dogs immersed me in this cold harsh environment from the get go with its gripping details of Vicky and Chris's encountering a wolf and then a moose. I never knew that moose could be so mean. The hardships these two face in trying to prevent hypothermia while trying to find a path back to safety, holds a readers attention to be sure. When they finally have a few things go their way, your brought back to the reality that time is running out for them. It's easy to become vested in Chris, Vicky and her dogs, there is a desire for them to succeed. Both Vicky and Chris learn from their experience of being in the wild. Chris having just moved from Toronto learns that he has no idea about the wilds of Alaska. He starts out initially having this charming attitude, but quickly realizes that his lack of knowledge is what landed him in his situation. He also comes to realize a respect for Vicky and her skills and wants to learn how he can better help her get them home. Chris has a few skills of his own that he brings to the table, which end up surprising Vicky too. Johnson does a remarkable job illustrating that despite the best preparation, there are many obstacles that even Vicky couldn't have foreseen. Vicky has this inner strength that comes through during the story, but also a vulnerable side as she opens up to Chris about her father and her fears about not being able to find a way out. Overall, a riveting survival story recommended for 10 and up.