Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Ellie’s Long Walk: The True Story of Two Friends on the Appalachian Trail, by Pam Flowers, 32 pages.

The world-famous Appalachian Trail stretches for 2,174 miles from Baxter State Park in Maine to Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia.  In some places it is quite treacherous, winding its way through challenging (but very beautiful), remote terrains such as marshes, rivers, valleys, steep cliffs and mountains.  

Adventurer Pam Flowers had always dreamed of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail – something that very few people have accomplished. Knowing that it would require months to complete, she wanted a companion. When she first met and adopted Ellie, an abandoned puppy, she thought that she might have found a friend for her journey.

Months of training followed. Ellie and Pam walked for hours each day. Then they began to carry packs on their backs as they hiked. Every day Pam added small weights, until they could walk for many miles carrying fully loaded packs without tiring … and every day, Pam became more certain that she and Ellie could complete the hike.

Finally, they were ready to begin.

Pam and Ellie worked their way southward from Maine, following the trail through forests, to the tops of mountains and along steep ridges. Sometimes the two were able to walk for more than twenty miles a day; on other days, they might only walk twelve miles or less if the trail was rough or the weather was bad.

They faced many challenges. There were severe thunderstorms and later, cold winter weather arrived. One day, a fierce blizzard struck as they made the treacherous hike along Wildcat Ridge. On another day they had a terrifying ordeal when river ice broke unexpectedly under Ellie’s feet … the little dog almost drowned.  But the two friends helped each other.  When Pam fell down an embankment, hurting (but not severely injuring) her back, it was Ellie’s enthusiasm which gave her the mental strength to continue. When deep snow hid the trail, it was the dog’s keen sense of smell that guided them.

After 199 days, their long journey ended in March when they arrived at the end of the trail - tired, cold and dirty – but triumphant! They had done it – together - and a crowd of people cheered and celebrated with them. 

Beautiful paintings by artist Bill Farnsworth complete this winning adventure story of friendship, teamwork, courage and perseverance that celebrates the bond of love and trust which can exist between a human and a dog.

A helpful map of the Appalachian Trail is included.

Pam Flowers is also the author of Douggie: The Playful Pup Who Became a Sled Dog Hero, a true story about dogsledding in Alaska.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on January 31, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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