Top critical review
A traditional Eskimo girl runs the Iditarod
Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2007
The father of the Bright Dawn, the heroine of this story, is stranded on an ice floe while seal hunting. The sea becomes a terror to him, and they move from the Alaskan coast. He is asked to represent their new village in the Iditarod, and trains for it until an accident prevents his racing. Then Bright Dawn takes his place, with Black Star, her favorite dog, as her leader. No one from their town had ever finished the race. Bright Dawn runs into many hardships and dangers, but races well. She was the first to enter Iditarod, and also wins an award for taking care of other racers in trouble, even though it slowed her down. When she and her dogs are stranded on an ice floe, her father comes to the rescue. She finishes the race, becoming the first one from her village to do so.
Bright Star and her family are traditional Eskimos. There is plenty of Eskimo mythology and superstition throughout the book; Bright Dawn is portrayed as being true to her people when she relinquishes her skepticism (created by English influences) and decides to trust the old Eskimo gods, traditions, and talismans.
I thought the book was not one of O'Dell's better works. I was disappointed in the way he presented the Eskimos' beliefs, although I admire the way he portrayed their resourcefulness. I also thought the storyline was rather boring.