Applying a School of Criticism of Schilb and Clifford Analyze “Balto"
The story of the sled dog Balto is reminiscent of the harrowing adventure stories of Jack London. If you liked White Fang and The Call of the Wild, then Balto should not be missed. Balto's story engages themes of heroes, animals, recreation, medicine, and history. It is a story of courage and struggle set in an epic arctic expedition. Balto has become a popular topic among beginners' chapter books. Chapter books are short published works intended for intermediate readers age 6-10. They help young readers in grades K-3 transition from picture books to more complex literacy. These books range in length from 15 to 35 pages and are full of illustrations.
TC Boyle's "Balto" fully relies on the allusion that one can save another given the want and willpower of an innocent character. We are all familiar with the factual turned folk legend: a young wolfdog saves children in Nome, Alaska who suffer from diphtheria. Balto, and his pack, battle the detrimental snowstorms, disobedient companions and self doubt in order to deliver the medicine that will cure the ailing children. This leads to the inevitable question: Why did TC Boyle find it appropriate to title the short story of a teenage girl disregarding her father after the young wolfdog who chose to sacrifice everything? Angelle's defiant reactions persecute her father rather than save him. When she dismisses her father's well being and shouts, "'I was,' so loudly that she might have been shouting it to the man with the camera at the back of the long churchy room with its sweat-burnished pews and the flags and emblems and all the rest," the reader is challenged because the expectations of her actions do not meet the hurtful reality. Angelle, like every character introduced, acts impulsively based upon on her self-absorbed wants. She wants her mother to return home, for her father to become a stable member in her home, and for her well-doing in school to be admired.
By and large, Balto has a quiet life as a sled dog - until tragedy strikes. Dozens of children in Nome become sick with diphtheria. Without antitoxin serum, they will perish - and the closest supply is 650 miles away! The only way to get the serum to Nome is by sled, but can the dogs deliver it in time? Heading bravely into a brutal blizzard, Balto leads the race for life.