Joseph Monninger

Baby is in trouble and has to make some hard decisions.

Baby is in trouble. Her last chance is with a couple whose idea of fun is dog sledding. Baby loves the dogs, but when her old boyfriend shows up, she runs off with him. In no time at all, Baby has to make some hard decisions. Over time, Baby comes to love the dogs and takes naturally to sledding, but when her old boyfriend, Bobby, shows up, she can’t stop herself from running off with him, accidentally taking a puppy along. In no time at all, life with Bobby goes bad and Baby has to make some hard decisions about what she’s going to do.

  • Ages: 14- 17
  • Grades: 9 - 12
  • Pages: 204


Recent Reviews

7 Monniger takes a fairly standard foster-kid plot and revivifies it through his spare and finely-honed style. Baby's voice has more than a touch of Hemingway to it . . .

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

The girl's first-person voice, the backdrop, and the details work together well to set this story apart from the many in which troubled teens find solace in animals.


The prose style is spare, evoking the harsh winter landscape. A new setting for a somewhat familiar theme.

—Kirkus Reviews

The novel has a fascinating setting for this story of a troubled teen. The information about the dogs, a well as the sled competitions, adds a surprisingly poignant dimension to a familiar plotline.


This wonderful coming-of-age novel has at its heart the healing power of nature. In this well-written tale, the author skillfully utilizes his love and understanding of sledding to weave a story of the redemptive and restorative power of animals.

—School Library Journal

Monninger captures the thrill of racing sled dogs and Baby's struggle to learn new choices. His smooth plot and non-sentimental prose will pull both males and females effortlessly along the trail. Yet his understated comparisons of animals to humans will leave readers much to ponder after they reach the finish line. A simple story, beautifully told.

—ALAN Review

Monninger gives Baby the space to find beauty in the crackling cold of the North Woods and confidence in the thrill of racing. Readers will be as aware of what’s going on as Baby is, but the unfolding of her story is neatly done.

—Horn Book