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4.4 out of 5 stars18
4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 November 2007
Ten-year-old Tom Griffin and his older brother, twelve-year-old Johnny, live in Dublin, Ireland, with their parents and a teenaged half-sister, Grainne. Grainne has not seen or heard from her mother since she was a baby, and now her mother is coming from America for a visit. Grainne is nervous about the visit. Will seeing her mother heal the hurt of being abandoned by this woman?

The boys' mother, Sandra, decides to take the boys somewhere else during the visit by Grainne's mother, and arranges a holiday in Finland for herself and the boys. They are going to have a grand adventure. This story is told in alternating chapters as Tom and Johnny become acquainted with sled dogs and their handler and then go off into the wilderness on an exciting dog sled ride to a remote lodge. And as Grainne nervously waits for the arrival of her birth mother.

The boys are excited about the chance to help feed and water the sled dogs, and to help with camp chores. They are having a grand time, until their mother disappears. Her lead dog is a rogue who decides to go his own way, and she becomes lost in the cold, snowy uninhabited forest. It is dark, and the sled tips over and injures Sandra. She can't get back on the sled, or get the dogs under control.

The boys decide to take a team of dogs and sled and search for their mother on their own, and they sneak out of the lodge and harness the dogs. It's dark and cold, with deep snow, and the trail is not clear, but their lead dog seems to know where he is going...or does he?

Tween readers can relate to the realistic characters and their emotions as Roddy Doyle tells this dramatic story in sparse, simple language, while keeping the tension high. With the rowdy rambunctious boys and their adventure in Finland, the frantic search for their mother, and the angst of a teenaged girl meeting the mother who abandoned her, there is something for everyone in this exciting story.

Reviewed by: Grandma Bev
0Comment17 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 June 2008
The last reviewer said that this had school reading list written all over it. Well I guess I'm about to prove his point. I'm a secondary English teacher and this was left at our school by a Heinemann rep. Seeing as I was the only one who seemed vaguely interested in this book I took it home.

Now, I'm no Roddy Doyle devotee (I've never even wanted to read any of his work before) so if you're looking for a Doyle fan's perspective, some of the other reviews might help you more.

What I can say is that when reps leave novels for us I rarely finish them and never enjoy them, but I did enjoy this - a lot.

A previous reviewer mentioned that there is little of Roddy Doyle's humour in the novel, and well, I guess he's right. There aren't any jokes. Where I disagree with the previous reviewer is his assessment of the parallel storylines. I felt that they worked brilliantly. I wanted to know about the boys. I wanted to know about their sister. I found that my interest in both story lines was maintained throughout. And the two ideas are cleverly linked.

For me it was just subtle enough, and Doyle fills this book with subtle portrayals of character delivered in precise uncomplicated prose. Most teenage fiction misses the mark for me, but I believed this. It was great.

I picked this up (having forgotten about it on Monday, by Wednesday night I'd finished it. Now I am a bit of a soppy 'eejit' I admit, but the end to this book made me cry.

School reading list, here we come! - given a fair wind and a bit of leeway in the budget at least.
22 comments11 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 July 2009
My mum bought this book for me and i didn't know whether i would like it or not but once i started it gets addictive. The story is about 2 boys and their mum who decide to go on holiday to Scandanavia. They all go on a trip but their mum doesnt return. Its up to them to save her! 10/10

One of the best!!!
0Comment5 of 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This book is a wonderful adventure story about two boys, Tom and Johnny, who go to Lapland with their mother on holiday and get caught up in a race to find her when her dog sled goes off course in the middle of a snow storm. The story entwines with the story of their older, half sister Grainne, who stays behind in their home town of Dublin, waiting to meet the mother who walked out on her when she was just a toddler. The story of Grainne and her mother is told in tiny snatches in between chunks of the adventures of Tom and Johnny. It might seem uneven but it works perfectly, and both stories explore the relationships between a mother and her children and what separation can mean for both parties on different emotional and physical levels. The story is simply and powerfully told, in short, punchy chapters. The characters are well sketched and the economical use of narrative helps to drive the plot forward to its exciting conclusion. I thought this was magnificently written, and although it is very different from Doyle's earlier works for children, The Giggler Treatment and their sequels, this is a gripping adventure story that will be eaten up by children who want to explore what else Doyle can do.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is a fun, dramatic and informative story about two boys and their mother who go on a trip to Finland. The huskies who pull sleds are the big source of attraction for the lads. And they're going to be sledding across snowy wastes, frozen lakes and wooded wilderness all day... Yaay!

Meanwhile back in Dublin, the boys have an older half-sister who waits with their dad, for her mother is coming back from America to see her for the first time in many years.

The boys work with the dogs and take care of them, learning all they can. This stands them in good stead when their mother's sled vanishes on a trek and the boys look out at the night and snow, just knowing it is up to them to find her....

I recommend this short book to anyone, boys, girls, adults. You should know however that huskies do not make good pets for urban families; they are a working, surviving type of breed, not a highly domesticated one.
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on 22 April 2014
I loved the way there was 2 parts too the story ,it really got me interested and the story itself was great. I really liked the husky dog Hastro and how he was so cheeky.I really got into the story and I look forward to reading more of Roddy Doyle books!
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on 5 February 2011
First, I should tell you something about me. Well, I am a complete dog-freak. Anything dog I will read, watch or do. I have a dog-a rescue dog who is a Labrador cross. I also LOOOOVEEE huskies and this book caught my eye straight away by the hug, aqua-eyes staring at me from the front cover, piercing and beautiful. I picked it up straight away, read the blurb and realised it was about two brothers who went to Finland on a husky expedition. The thing I loved about this book was that it doesn't describe every single detail. It's short, snappy and straight-to-the point. It has a lot of family charm and is a must-read for dog lovers. If you love dogs, read this book!
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on 20 August 2011
Wilderness is a great story with a fantastic story line.The book is about two boys and their mother who go to Finland on holiday,while their half sister stays behind to meet her real mother.During the holiday,the boy's mother goes missing and they go on a dangerous journey to find her.All in all,this is a brilliant book and I would recommend this novel to children over 9 years old.
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on 16 April 2010
I found this a welcome change from the over-abundance of fantasy type books for children. If you're not a huge fantasy fan then there's not a lot to choose on the bookshelves. This was exciting and I though both the plots ran alongside each other perfectly. Simply but very well written.
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on 12 December 2013
excellent !!!! what a fabulous hot water dispenser-save time,money,no, daughter loves using it for tea,coffee,hot chocolate,cup-a-soup etc.this will hopefully save us money in the long run as we are only using what we need. go out & buy one.
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