Libby Riddles was running the last great race… the Iditarod. She and her team of dogs were racing across Alaska in treacherous weather conditions and uninhabited wilderness. Some of the conditions were so treacherous she titled the book about her journey Storm Run.
Who is Libby Riddles?
In my quest to find good Alaska history and culture books to read to my children, the book Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race by Libby Riddles, became an instantaneous favorite of mine. Libby Riddles came to Alaska by herself, with parental permission, when she was not even 17. She set up a life for herself, with a little help from friends, in Alaska. And not in the city where people would be around to help her. She settled in Nelchina, a place that is still sparsely populated to this day – and even less populated when she came in 1973. She built her own cabin and learned how to live off the land. In Alaska, we would say that she was living in the bush – a term for living in remote Alaska with very few amenities (if any).
Shortly after moving to Alaska, she began building a working dog team for help around her land. Then she began entering short races and began training for the Iditarod. In 1980, she ran and completed her first Iditarod. But her year to shine was 1985. This year, she became the first woman ever to win the Iditarod. She won it through grit, bravery, and tenacity – going out on the trail in conditions when other racers would not.
Overview of the Book: Storm Run
In the book, Storm Run, Libby Riddles does an excellent job writing about her life when she first came to Alaska. It never ceases to amaze me each time that we read it – a young girl brave enough to come to Alaska by herself as a teen, and then stick it out in the bush! But I also absolutely adore the stories she tells of her time out on the Iditarod Trail in 1985. She battles 60 below temperatures and blizzards, but also raced under the dancing northern lights. Riddles writes about how she cares for her dogs and what she takes on the race. She also documents the emotions and thoughts she had while making crucial decisions that led to her winning the Iditarod. The fortitude, determination, and perseverance that Riddles had are exactly the sort of qualities that I wish to instill in my children. And the history of the Iditarod and the story are perfectly combined to make a classic children’s book perfect for any Alaskan collection.
The book is a mix of fun and brightly colored illustrations with real pictures from Libby Riddles’ life. The illustrations are well done and realistic, yet also fun and engaging. There is also a full-page illustrated map of the Iditarod route that Libby Riddles ran. But our favorites are definitely the pictures. The pictures of Libby, her dogs, and the trail make the book come to life. The vastness of the Alaska wilderness is clearly evident and gorgeous in the pictures. You won’t be disappointed looking through this book, and paired with the story, it will be a favorite!
An Inspiring Story about an Incredible Race
Storm Run is not a chapter book and can definitely be read in one setting, but it is also on the longer side of story books. While all of my children did listen to the whole story, James (7) was the only one who clearly stayed engaged. It is well suited and appropriate for all children, though school aged children will likely be most interested. Of all of the children’s books that I have read on the Iditarod thus far, this is my favorite.
Thank you for reading the first children’s Alaska book review! A new book will be reviewed on the first Wednesday of every month! We cannot wait to share with you.