THE INCREDIBLE LIFE OF BALTO
||TELEGRAM. The year is 1925 and the
remote town of Nome Alaska has a diphtheria epidemic.
Diphtheria is a deadly disease and extremely contagious.
There is a medicine, a serum, that can help save people in
the town BUT there is a catch. The only supply is all the
way in Anchorage. Also a blizzard has swept through Alaska
and they cannot use any planes. Time is running out. It is
decided that dog sled teams will set up for a relay to
race to Nome. Each team will carry the serum a part of the
way and then hand it off to another driver to carry it
farther. The men that guide a dog sled team are called
“mushers”. Twenty brave mushers and their dog teams spread
out along the route from Nenana, where Anchorage had sent
the serum. They had to cover 674 miles, a trip that
normally took about 30 days by dog team. It was 50 degrees
below zero when the first musher left. One of the last
mushers was named Gunnar Kaasen. He chose a dog named
Balto to be his team leader. This choice surprised some
because Balto was inexperienced as a pack leader and not
as fast as some of the other dogs. But Balto bravely lead
his team through a blinding blizzard and when they finally
reached their checkpoint the other musher and his team
were still asleep. Instead of wasting any time, because
Gunnar was afraid it would take too long for the other
team to get ready, he and his exhausted team pushed on.
They made it to Nome and instantly the entire world knew
Balto’s name. Balto! He was the incredible dog that lead
the team that delivered the serum! He is a HERO!
But what happened to famous Balto after that? What became of him? Was it a life of fame, excitement? How did this small hero spend the remainder of his days?
Here are some extra facts, at one point Balto came to a complete stop and refused to lead the team any farther. They detoured to the side and later Gunnar realized that Balto had saved the team from plunging into open water. Another fact is that the serum had a 144 hour time limit that it could be exposed to such extreme conditions. If they couldn’t make it in 144 hours (6 days) the needed antitoxin would go dormant. Also the famous Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska commemorates this historic event.
This is the incredible true story of Balto, a sled dog, and the race to bring medicine to stop a deadly Diphtheria outbreak in a remote Alaskan town. (Booktalk by Angela Germany for 2014 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice nominee)
|SUBJECTS: Balto (Dog).
Sled dogs -- Alaska.
Diphtheria -- Alaska -- Nome.
Picture books for children.