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The Incredible Life of Balto

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  190 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Most people know the story of Balto, the world famous dog who led his dogsled team through a blizzard to deliver a lifesaving serum to the stricken people of Nome, Alaska, in 1925. Balto shot to instant stardom—a company named dog food after him, a famous sculptor erected a statue of him that stands in Central Park to this day, and the dog even starred in his own Hollywood ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
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I'm a big fan of Meghan McCarthy. Her books are engaging, entertaining and informative. And, even if her illustration style isn't my personal favorite, I have to say that those big-eyed characters she creates are getting more winsome with each book I read. In this book, McCarthy tells the story of Balto, the famous sled dog that helped bring much-needed serum from a town near Anchorage to Nome, Alaska where a diphtheria epidemic threatened many lives in 1925.

This is a story of courage, and ther
Aug 05, 2011 Peacegal rated it liked it
3.5 stars--We all know the story of Balto the sled dog and his successful delivery of medicine to the stricken populace of Nome, Alaska. Balto has been the subject of countless children’s books and movies; however the story usually ends at the finish line.

The Incredible Life of Balto is the first book I’ve encountered that tells the complex story of what happened to Balto after the delivery of the serum. (And the book does touch on the fact that Balto was lucky; some sled dogs perished on the tr
Any dog or man willing to risk life and limb to trek through snow and ice to bring medicine to the town of Nome Alaska that has fallen to a case of diphtheria, deserves praise and honor of all sorts! That's what this book is about, specifically the lead dog Balto of all (or part) of just such an expedition that occurred in 1925.

But, this book is more about the "what happened after" than the actual event. We learn about Balto's rise to fame, his fall from it, and what happens thereafter.

I appreci
Apr 11, 2012 Nick rated it liked it
Shelves: animal-biography
Well written, but I didn't think that the artwork style worked with this story. It is a "what happened next" book about Balto, the famous sled dog who was celebrated for helping to deliver serum to Nome, Alaska in the 1920s. Of the many dogs and men who made that run possible, Balto was the visible face, with a statue and a silent movie celebrating his heroic efforts in helping stop a diptheria epidemic.
After his celebrity waned, he and the other dogs were sold off for stage and sideshow work, u
The Library Lady
Sometimes a talented illustrator is not the best illustrator for her/his own book and this is the case here. The story of Balto goes beyond the Iditarod inspiring run to Nome with the vaccine--what happened next is just as or perhaps even more fascinating. And McCarthy tells that story well. But her own illustrations, cartoonish and full of pop eyed dogs, don't do Balto justice. The cover looks more like an image from a Nicktoon show than the story of a beautiful, brave dog. Disappointing.
Jul 10, 2011 Betsy rated it really liked it
I’m not a dog person. Like ‘em fine. Don’t see much particular need to interact with them on a regular basis. Sometimes, though, I'll feel like my life as a children’s librarian would have been easier if I had been a canine fanatic. A large swath of children’s literature each year is dedicated to man’s best friend. This year alone I’ve seen dogs traveling vast distances to be reunited with their loved ones (A Dog’s Way Home), convince kids that they are transformed accountants (The Ogre of Oglef ...more
Feb 19, 2017 SFrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animal-classics
As I was already aware of the story about Balto and the dog sled teams that rushed the serum to Nome, what I found interesting is the manner in which Meghan McCarthey gathered her facts for the book.
Richie Partington
4 June 2011 THE INCREDIBLE LIFE OF BALTO by Meghan McCarthy, Knopf, August 2011, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-375-84460-7

THE INCREDIBLE LIFE OF BALTO is the picturebook true story of a sled dog from Alaska who became amazingly famous; was soon thereafter forgotten and neglected; and was later rediscovered and saved from further neglect and mistreatment thanks to a public fundraising campaign.

Balto was the lead dog on a dogsled team that was instrumental in saving lives in 1925, when a shipment of medicine
Mar 13, 2012 Jessi rated it really liked it
I really did enjoy this book, and I especially like the illustrations. I like the story of Balto, too. However, I was just reading through it and there was one line in particular that caught me off guard:

"It was fifty below zero when the journey began. Some dogs died on the way because their lungs burst from the cold."

To be honest with you, I didn't really want to read that. I know this is the *true* story of Balto, but the book is geared towards children. I would have preferred to have seen a
We have been fascinated by the story of Balto since we saw him (taxidermy) in Cleveland last summer so when I saw this book I new we wanted to read it. We had done quite a bit of reading on him already so there really wasn't much new information for us in this book. I was hoping it would be a great picture book version of his story though. Eh - not so great. He was a beautiful dog and in this book he pretty much looks like the dog on The Simpsons. My daughter LOVES to draw cartoons of dogs but w ...more
Back in 1925 a sled dog team, led on its final legs by Balto, a heretofore untried Siberian husky, carried diphtheria serum from Nenana to Nome, Alaska. Because the medicine saved many lives, the dog team's 600 mile trip earned them and their musher fame. Balto even had a statue erected in his honor and a movie. But there is more to this courageous dog's story. After the fame died down, Balto was sold, and he ended up largely forgotten in a sideshow. That is until George Kimble, a Cleveland busi ...more
Oct 30, 2014 Jacque rated it liked it
I thought this book was an interesting read. I have a love of dogs which is why it was probably emotional for me. After Balto's famous run through Alaska, he was sold to someone who didn't appreciate him and treated him like a museum artifact, Balto was saved by being bought again by someone who took care of him. I would read this out loud to a 4th or 5th grade class. I also liked this book because in the back after the story, the author went through her experience researching Balto and what her ...more
Kristi Maurer
Mar 25, 2014 Kristi Maurer rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I don't know, the kids and I just couldn't really get into this one! I think that the story was too long to really hold the interest of my niece and nephew, and I can't quite figure out why I didn't care much for it! I wasn't particularly bothered by the illustrations, they are what they are. I think there was some emotional something lacking for me in this story. I thought that Balto's tale was told much better in Gold Rush Dogs by Claire Rudolf Murphy and Jane G. Haigh, although that one isn't ...more
Jul 14, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
A fresh look at the famous sled dog, Balto. Meghan McCarthy briefly tells the story of Balto's brave run to Nome, Alaska. But then she follows up with what happens to the dog after he delivers the diphtheria serum, which is interesting and, at least to me, unfamiliar. Recommended for elementary school audiences. Students that have already learned about Balto will appreciate this story. Meghan McCarthy's picture are quirky as always, though it's a little less effective on dogs and for this seriou ...more
Sandy Brehl
Jan 24, 2012 Sandy Brehl rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb-non-fiction
The intense and familiar story of Balto the sled dog's dramatic Alaskan delivery of medicine is depicted in appealing, almost cartoonish illustrations. The unexpected part of the story reveals that once the public acclaim subsided Balto and his team languished in desperate circumstances. It took a public campaign funded by school children to provide Balto with the respect and security he deserved for the remainder of his life.
Back matter is excellent, with suggestions for further research, activ
Mar 11, 2015 Mailen rated it liked it

The book Balto is a true story. This book are about the dog Balto as cross Alaska, because a little boy was sick.
Balto must bring the medicine. He found the way, and he rescues the little boy and he be very popular. This book was very interesting.
What I disliked about the book was that Balto was sold. Balto and his team were hungry and forgotten. I learned that Balto and his team travelled over Alaska in 1925.
My favourite illustration was where Balto was so famous, so people have make a s
I actually didn't know anything about Balto before I read this - I'd never heard of the famous sled dog team that braved the weather to bring medicine to folks in Nome, Alaska. It's sad that his fame didn't bring him a better life after that, though. It would have been ideal if he'd been able to stay with his team and his person. Goofy illustrations - the dogs all have HUGE eyeballs. Were they huskies? I couldn't tell.
Benedikte Moldskred
Mar 11, 2015 Benedikte Moldskred rated it liked it

The Author is Meghan Maccarty. What I like about the book was when Balto came to Alaska with his team and fined the medicine to save Nome’s life.
That I dislike about the book are, there are to many difficult words.
That I learned was then Balto has a sculptor standing in New York central park and when he sled thought a blizzard to deliver a life saving.
The book is suitable for children and maybe their parents can read it for them, because it was a bit difficult words.
Sep 07, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
I found this to be an interesting and readable picture book biography of a dog. In the afterword the author writes about researching Balto to see if the stories about him were true and what he even looked like. This was sort of funny because the dogs pictured don't really look like any kind of sled dogs--they kind of look like boston terriers or french bulldogs. Still it was a good book in that it showed more of Balto's life beyond what he is most famous for.
Ccl Children's
This book tells not only the familiar story of Balto, the famous sled dog that helped to carry diptheria serum across Alaska, but also what happened to Balto after he became famous. His life wasn't always an easy one, but it does have a happy ending. Includes notes on the author's research. --ML

Find it in our catalog:
Sharon Lawler
Wonderful artwork aside, the controversy over which sled dog was the hero of the 1925 Serum Run in Alaska is detailed in the notes. Balto was the dog that ran the serum into Nome, but Togo ran the bulk of the race. People and media also contributed to the confusion. This is one of those events that would make a great research and discussion topic for students.
Sep 10, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
With so many new dog picture books taking themselves waaaay too seriously this year, it was refreshing to see the fabulous Meghan McCarthy's biography of Balto.

McCarthy's discussion about the fact-finding mission she had to go on was my favorite part of the book. I'd love to compare this book's tone to the one used in Stickeen (
Jun 04, 2013 Mariah rated it really liked it
The prose is a bit more sophisticated and awkward in this book compared with several other awesome McCarthy nonfiction books. Nevertheless, this is still an excellent piece of children's literary nonfiction. McCarthy's website, with its explanation of how she conducted her research is almost as precious as the book.
Not only did I love the illustrations in this book, but Meghan McCarthy showed why books like this should be used in the classroom at the end of the book when she talks about the importance of researching accurately. This would be a great book to use to introduce some sort of research project
Jan 22, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it
Many of my students have heard the story of Balto, but they never knew what happened to him after he became famous and this story tells that. I used it to kick off a dogsled/Iditarod unit with my 3rd graders today and they really liked it.
Chelsea Bashore
Dec 11, 2011 Chelsea Bashore rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked this book, but I wish there would have been more "real life" pictures in the end of the book, depicting the parts of the story (balto, the race, etc). The kids I read to kept asking about that. Although I probably could just create some sort of lesson and share them myself :)
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
I really liked Meghan McCarthy's POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum. This book has the same illustrative style which I enjoyed with Pop! I would like to see the final version and author's notes before considering a rating.
Karen Arendt
While it was interesting to find out what happened to Balto after his fame from the serum race, I thought the pictures appeared cartoonish for the content of the story. The author's note at the was informative about the importance of detective work in nonfiction writing.
Kim Girard
Jan 06, 2012 Kim Girard rated it liked it
Shelves: jan-2012
This is an engaging story that includes what happened to Balto after his famous race to Nome. I love the information in the back that describes some of the intricacies of doing research for a non-fiction book. The cartoonish illustrations detract from the story.
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Children's book author of many wonderful fiction and nonfiction books for young readers, including the below following. Meghan's books have won the IRA-CBC Children's Choice, ALA Notable, Kirkus Reviews Reviewer's Choice, Booklist Best Books, NYPL 100 Best Books, SLJ Best Books, and so on. Blah blah blah, what Meghan really wants to do is drive really fast and jump in really long grass until she g ...more
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