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Black Star, Bright Dawn

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Bright Dawn was a teenaged Eskimo girl. Black Star was her part-husky, mostly wolf, pet. Together they were about to begin the famous Iditarod dogsled race through the bitter cold of Alaska. Bright Dawn knew they would win, but she didn't count on the cold, blinding whiteout, the belligerent bull moose, or ice that could crack and splinter at any time. And she soon realized that she was not only depending on Black Star for the race, but for her life....

112 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1988

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About the author

Scott O'Dell

72 books707 followers
Scott O'Dell (May 23, 1898 – October 16, 1989) was an American children's author who wrote 26 novels for youngsters, along with three adult novels and four nonfiction books. He was most famously the author of the children's novel Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960), which won the 1961 Newbery Medal as well as a number of other awards. Other award winning books by O'Dell include The King's Fifth (1966), Black Star, Bright Dawn (1988), The Black Pearl (1967), and Sing Down the Moon (1970); which were all also Newbery Honor award books. O'Dell wrote primarily historical fiction. Many of his children's novels are about historical California and Mexico.

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5 stars
354 (24%)
4 stars
500 (34%)
3 stars
437 (30%)
2 stars
107 (7%)
1 star
38 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 157 reviews
10 reviews1 follower
September 8, 2022
It was really good there were challenges and they were faced and it was really good.
Profile Image for Maureen Milton.
269 reviews5 followers
November 29, 2012
A fourth grade student and I agreed to each read a different volume of Scott O'Dell's and I chose "Black Star, Bright Dawn," and I am glad. It is the story of an Eskimo girl whose family moves from the coast inland after her father, Bartok, is stranded on an ice floe while seal hunting. While he survives physically, he leaves his profession & agrees to train for the Iditarod (a grueling dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska). Soon he is injured. His daughter, 18-year-old Bright Dawn, agrees to replace him at the behest of Bartok's backers. She loves the dogs, but Black Star, a husky-wolf mix is her favorite.

The story is one of adventure and quiet intensity. When she is to leave, she is told, "Be of good cheer." Later, she is advised by an older racer that "[t]he race is won by thinking." Sturdy Bright Dawn proves to be resourceful, compassionate and ingenious. O'Dell's descriptions of the environment--the sparkling darkness, the ubiquitous cold, the dogs buried in snow so that "[j]ust their noses showed"--and Bright Dawn's travails in the weather and wildlife (moose attack!) make for a splendid, snowy immersion in the far north.

This title will appeal to readers who enjoy adventure stories and/or animal tales.
Profile Image for Jay Pruitt.
222 reviews14 followers
March 7, 2022
This YA book follows the adventure of Bright Dawn, a teenage eskimo girl from a small village in Alaska, as she has the opportunity to take her injured father's place in running the Iditarod. While she must overcome much hardship along the way, she's helped by the loyalty of her lead dog, Black Star.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that you get to step into the shoes of a participant of this famous, grueling race. There is no companion to rely upon when trouble arises, save your trusty sled dog team. And these dangers are extreme. A large portion of those who start the race do not even make it to the finish, much less are in the running for the victory. You can't help but admire the bravery of these athletes.
February 5, 2017
I really loved this book! I don't typically read adventure style books but this was great. I loved the fact that through it all we as the readers were still exposed to cultural realities and deep underlying issues such as gender roles (what a woman can and can't do), age expectations (oh! she's too young), and race or losing touch with a person's roots. This book was a bit slow at first and really I think it was due to the fact that I'm not used to the genre.

I truly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to broaden their horizons or who just loves adventure. It truly is just enough!
Profile Image for Judy.
3,047 reviews51 followers
June 10, 2020
This should appeal to any child (or young adult) who has any desire to run the Iditarod. I can't imagine choosing to compete against such extreme weather.

In several places, Bright Dawn encounters moose, reportedly threatening and unpredictable animals. I have inadvertently been within ten feet of a moose at least six times, twice when it was a cow with a calf. I never felt the least bit threatened. I wonder if the danger is greater for the Iditarod competitors because they are in the company of so many dogs. (Dogs are viewed as 'wolves' by moose, and anyone with the 'wolves' must also be dangerous.)
4 reviews
January 12, 2018
Scott O’Dell’s book Black Star, Bright Dawn is about a girl whose father gets injured after being stranded out on an ice sheet for days, just before he’s supposed to race in the Iditarod race. So 18-year old Bright Dawn agrees to take his place and train her 7 dogs for many months. As she goes through this race she encounters many obstacles along the way. But with her strong head and big heart she’s able to finish the race. I think that this book is a very good book for anyone who’s trying to learn how to get over obstacles with a strong head.
I think that this book was a good book, it is not in my top five favorites but is still very good. I say this because it was very jumpy and could be confusing at times. I really enjoyed how Bright Dawn was able to deal with conflict and stayed positive and was able to help others on the way. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who enjoys the outdoors, conflict and intense times.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
293 reviews5 followers
October 23, 2018
My 4th grade teacher read this book aloud in class when we were learning about and following the Iditarod that year. After that, I began a habit of tying my beanie baby dogs up like sled dogs and reenacting the book with them. This book also began my love of adventure books with wolves and dogs. I must have checked out this book a dozen times from the library in the following few years-it was one of those books I always wanted to re-read.
Profile Image for Maria.
285 reviews
February 26, 2018
I felt like I was reading a travel log rather than a novel.
O'Dell may have been aiming to communicate the stoicism of his characters, but they come across as one-dimensional. I do not need sentimentality, but I do need some depth of character in order to connect with and cheer on my main character.
For me, a real missed opportunity involving a girl, her best dog, and a grueling challenge to overcome.
Profile Image for Destinee.
1,574 reviews142 followers
May 12, 2009
A kid just asked me for a book about the Iditarod and I immediately thought of this. I probably read it five times when I was eleven years old. I remember it being soooo good, but I'm a little afraid to reread it. It's so depressing when your childhood favorites don't measure up to your standards as an adult.
1 review
October 25, 2011
this book was ok. i defiantly learned a lot about how the eskmos live their lives. I also lerned al lot about dog sledding and how it effects the eskmoes' life because it was a form of transpertation. over all the book was good but i thought is was a solw reader. this book relates my life because i almost lost my dad in a hilocoptor crash.
7 reviews
March 28, 2018
Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O'dell is about a teenage Eskimo girl. She has a pet dog, partly wolf. This book is very adventurous, exciting, and heartwarming. She goes with her dog on a famous dogsled race, the Iditarod. It was a cold, very snowy trip. I liked this book a lot because of the action I would recommend this to anyone who likes non- fiction.
Profile Image for Sydney.
178 reviews
November 18, 2014
This book was okay. I didn't like all the spirit stuff, but other than that the story was exciting. The writing style was a little weird at first but I got used to it. It's a good book and a quick read.
Profile Image for Victoria Wilson.
34 reviews
September 14, 2013
i had to read it for my english class. and i hated it. very poorly writen. plot holes and it jumps all over the place. dislike.
Profile Image for Lauren Gibson.
27 reviews
April 22, 2012
I read the book Black Star,Bright Dawn by Scott O'Dell
SUMMARY: This story is about a girl Bright Dawn and her Eskimo family. Black Star has a special relationship with the leader of a pack of mushers, whose name was Black Star. Bright Dawn's brother died some years before in an ice accident and ever since then Bright Dawn has been hers dads companion on the ice, until the day he gets stuck on a floating iceberg. It is when he is rescued he realizes he never wants to be on the ice again so they move away from the city When her father gets injured practicing in for the race he asks her to run the Iditarod in his place. Bright Dawn has been practicing and she rounded up a team of her own dogs, with Black Star leading the pack. When the race day comes she lines up at the starting point and believes she can really win this. Then she encounters many obstacles such as a white out, bulling moose, and cracking ice. She gets stuck on an iceberg and eventually floats back to her village, and everyone there treats her as if she won the race.
CRITIQUE: The author does a very good job of bringing the setting to life throughout the book by giving vivd details of the harsh conditions. "it was 53 degrees below zero, with a sharp wind blowing north." The details do not overwhelm the setting because knowing the harsh conditions is essential to understanding the hardships Bright Dawn has to endure. The characters do behave in realistic ways through the book. Usually this would not be a girl's "sport" but under the circumstances and the details given at the beginning of the book the brave daughter fulfills her fathers wishes and this is what makes the book even more interesting and unpredictable. The conflicts through the story fit perfectly with the setting and time period. The conflicts that go on are weather related especially during the race at the end. The conflicts make this book more exciting and they are very reasonable in this type of setting. The story is relevant to todays society because these types of races. This is an interesting action packed way to learn about the dog sled racing and the severe weather and obstacles the racers have to go through during it. This book follows the literary guidelines. The point of view really dragged me into the story because it was a girl rather than a boy, which is unusual for this sport. The main conflict through the book was a person vs nature. Bright Dawn had to overcome many natural hardships to try to finish the race. The setting was a very important feature because it shares to the readers an environment and climate that i have not experienced. I found it very interesting and brave that Bright Dawn took her fathers place. Bright Dawn is considered a rounded character because we get to know her very well through the book. The climax of the plot is when Bright Dawn gets stuck on the iceberg just like her father did earlier in the book.
RESPONSE: I thought this book was alright. It had very vivid details that dragged the me into the story at times. I mostly enjoyed the end when Bright Dawn had to overcome all of the obstacles and the ending how she returned home. I think this is a good book to have in the classroom to introduce different customs and what people do for fun in different parts of the world. I think this book would be better for older children so they can read it on their own.
312 reviews6 followers
February 13, 2020
Set in Alaska there are no leads opening. Instead the dogs are harnessed to hunt bearded seals. Black Star is the lead dog and much loved by Bright Dawn. Bartok, Bright Dawn's father, is not of the same opinion. Whilst hunting was typically men's work, since the death of her brother, Bright Dawn has become like a son. Alas Bartok gets stranded on a broken ice floe. Not only does he lose all the fingers on his right hand but it has scarred him emotionally. The doctor says they need to move away from the sea so the family leaves Womengo and goes to Ikuma.

Bartok starts working for the cannery but does not enjoy it. He is challenged to enter the Iditarod. Whilst Ikuma is a checkpoint along the 1,179 mile route, no one from Ikuma has ever won the race. What follows is an exceptionally well-written, realistic experience on the Iditarod trail with Bright Dawn. Yes, she is the one who accepts the challenge. See how Bright Dawn converses with her competitors, 'handles' the wildlife along the way, learns how to build shelters, fights through all weathers and more.

We used this book in our homeschool with our teenager. Both of us absolutely LOVED the book. A great read and one I would highly recommend with some good life lessons intertwined. I was not required to write a review but chose to do so. Thanks, Liz
Profile Image for Lisa  Montgomery.
703 reviews3 followers
September 4, 2020
This is another one of those books I read years ago and have recently revisited.
At only 144 pages, this is an easy read. It has a lead sled dog that is part dog, but mostly wolf, a cross country sled race, dangerous climate, and an 18-year-old Inuit, Bright Dawn, who stands in for her father, who faced a nearly fatal entrapment in ice and the phobia that cripples him.
Oteg is the father-like figure during the sledding competition. The thing I did not like this time that I did not notice the first time I read this book was how Oteg is the "comic relief" in the tale. Previously, I saw him as the "information guy" who assists Bright Dawn.
Oteg also has whimsical conversations with the elements.
136 reviews
June 28, 2020
Good map included to trace the route the race follows.
“There was also a church where the Reverend Cartwright told us about God and the Devil, about heaven and hellfire. I got mixed up listening to him, because I had always believed in the God Sila...Sila is a mystery. He lives far apart from us, way off in nothingness...But he watches to see that we do not harm the world we live in—the air and water, our friends the animals, the land and the sky.” Pg. 25-26
“But most of all I was happy about myself. I was not the same person who had left Ikuma long weeks ago. How I was different, I didn’t know. But it was there, deep inside of me. Pg. 134
Profile Image for SFrick.
360 reviews
March 24, 2017
All though many others wrote their story of racing the Iditarod, for
example Gary Paulsen, I especially enjoyed the book by Scott O'Dell called
Black Star, Bright Dawn. The teenaged Eskimo girl is Bright Dawn. Her
dog which is part huskey part wolf is named Black Star.
Bright Dawn did not come in first.
However, she did win two different awards the best of which in my mind
was for "sportsmanship", Duly noted. She will be well remembered for
running that specific race by the other mushers whom she helped during
the race at the expense of race time.
Profile Image for Isabella Pina.
214 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2018
More like a 3.5. I absolutely loved this book. It was an excellent short novel that will stick with me for a time to come. The only problem I had was that it was a little confusing at some points and I had to reread the page multiple times to fully grasp and understand what it was saying. Otherwise, I think this book was an excellent book with a storyline that you don't hear much about, dogsled racing and the famous Iditarod.
Profile Image for Alex Petsche .
35 reviews2 followers
March 9, 2022
This was a perfect book and learning tool for my 5th graders who are studying the Iditarod. We were able to use this book in language arts to learn new vocabulary and make comparisons between this and the true story of Libby Riddles, "Storm Run." As for me, if I were to have just picked this book up to read I would have found it very dry and a little underwhelming. However, it worked perfectly for our unit.
Profile Image for Sara.
284 reviews
November 14, 2017
Like O’Dell’s other works, this novella features a strong female character and spare, beautiful language. Though I agree with some reviewers this could have been longer, it is also a great work as it stands. It worked particularly well as a car read-aloud as it is short enough to finish quickly and maintain attention.
Profile Image for Sarah.
227 reviews4 followers
June 30, 2019
Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O'dell follows a young First Nations woman throught her first Iditarod race. A single sitting book, quick paced, heavy on details and a focus on sportmanship and deep care for working animals. Great for kids who like fast pacing, low risk adventures. No gore or graphic depictions. Might be a good classroom read aloud.
Profile Image for Sonja.
527 reviews26 followers
February 15, 2020
By far one of my favorites as a kid. I think I read it first at about 10 or 11 and then read it again frequently afterwards. By far my favorite of all of O’Dell’s work. I loved Bright Dawns spirit and her brave and bold decision to run the famous Alaskan dogsled race. So ahead of her time! And I adored Black Star’s loyalty to her and their goal. I was enthralled with this book from page one.
470 reviews
January 24, 2018
I read this as a read-along for Henry's fifth grade reading (him in French, me in English). Although the idea and setting was interesting, it was pretty spare and more understated than I prefer. As always, fun to talk about with Henry.
Profile Image for Laura.
448 reviews4 followers
January 12, 2019
I remember loving Island of the Blue Dolphins, so I wanted to read this one as well. It's always hard to judge books for young readers as an adult, but I can imagine I would have loved this one as well.
Profile Image for Jolene Elison.
396 reviews3 followers
May 31, 2019
I adore all things Alaska. Add to that dogs, survival, and a strong female character and I am hooked. I liked this better than Island of the Blue Dolphins by the same author. Surviving Antartica Reality TV 2083 is my favorite cold weather story for young adults.
Profile Image for Teri.
1,356 reviews
April 1, 2020
I really enjoyed this book about an young girl who enters the Iditarod race. Learned about the Eskimo culture and about this famous dog sled race. The title is the young girl Bright Dawn and the lead dog Black Star.
Profile Image for Stephanie Salyer.
278 reviews2 followers
January 28, 2022
I read over two days as a pre -read for my oldest. He says it's really easy reading also. I would guess 5-6th grade reading level. I love the imagery of the words. Some of the themes are travel, adventure, love, family in this coming of age adventurous story about a girl growing up in Alaska.
102 reviews
March 24, 2022
Good adventure story where a teenage girl competes in the Iditarod. Filled with cultural Eskimo and Alaskan geography info.
A little bit short and cot choppy sentences, as would be good for a 3rd grader.
A quick read.
Profile Image for SouthWestZippy.
1,899 reviews8 followers
August 12, 2015
Bright Dawn finds herself taking her Father place in the the Iditarod along with her dog Black Star. Great adventure story.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 157 reviews

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