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"Friends don't leave friends behind to do dishes for yetis!" –Pugs of the Frozen North
Pugs of the Frozen North
by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers
True Winter comes once in a lifetime. It turns everything into a magical wonderland and gives people an opportunity to win a legendary sled race. Whoever wins can make one wish that will come true.
Two friends, Siska and Shen, embark on a fantastical journey to win the race with sixty-six pugs pulling their sled. Along the way, they encounter many obstacles, including spaghetti-eating yetis, singing snow, and other racers. As they complete the journey, they discover that friendship is more important than winning.
Pugs of the Frozen North is a fun-filled story with outrageous characters, interesting obstacles, and snow that comes to life. Although the story focuses on Siska and Shen, the other characters are extremely funny and help add suspense to the story. The race generates kid-appropriate conflict that will keep the reader guessing and giggling as they watch pugs (and polar bears and dogbots) race to the top of the world.
The story is easy to read and engaging. However, the story doesn’t come to an end when the racers arrive at the top of the world and meet Snowfather. Once the racers reach their destination, the story becomes less interesting and readers may have a difficult time reaching the end of the story. The ending deals with the death of Siska’s grandfather, which may cause some children to have questions about what happens at the end of one’s life.
- While in the race, Siska and Shen encounter weresnow that tries to form itself into scary snowdogs. The pugs bite “the snowmen’s snowy bottoms. After that the weresnow stopped its tricks.”
- One of the racers goes over a bridge that breaks. As she is clinging to the edge, snowtrolls shout from the abyss. “They had been looking forward to Helga falling so that they could eat her. They started hurling big splinters of ice up at the bridge, hoping to dislodge her.” In the end, Siska and Shen are able to save her.
- Siska and the other racers are kidnapped by yetis who feed them spaghetti in order to trick them. The yetis want them to wash dishes, because yetis like to make spaghetti but not clean up the mess.
- One of the racers uses a rocket launcher to try to stop the other racers from making it to the finish line first. “’Take this, you scum!’ sneered Sir Basil. But just as he pulled the trigger, Side-Plate’s snow boot kicked the rocket launcher upward. The rocket whizzed harmlessly off into the sky.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- During True Winter, there are various types of magical snow. For example, shrink snow makes one of the racers shrink to the size of a toy soldier.
- When the racers meet Snowfather, he shows them a special type of snow. He says, “Everything you see here is made of snow . . . the special anything snow that falls only here, at the top of the world. Shape it into whatever you want, and it will become real.” The Snowfather then creates a bird that comes to life.
- The Snowfather visits Siska’s sick grandfather. The Snowfather blows on snow that begins to float upward. “The snow that was under Grandpa’s bed caught against the slats and the underneath of the mattress and kept rising, so that the bed was lifted with it.” When Siska’s grandpa floats into the air, Sika’s mother says, “He’s going on that one last journey that he always wished for.” The Snowfather replies, “He’s going to places even I have never seen.”