It would be a hard heart indeed that did not love the Iditaread. This time-honored reading challenge takes place during the Iditarod each year at the Mallet and Cape Cod Hill schools here in rural Maine, with each classroom becoming a sled dog team which reads its way across the race to see which team can read the most books. Each team has one Lead Dog and one Spirit Dog selected by their teacher. Here is the definition for selection provided by Mallett librarian Arika Galkowski.
Lead dog – A dog at the front of the team. This dog sets the pace for the team to follow. This dog guides, directs and perseveres especially in the face of difficulties or obstacles.
Spirit dog – A dog who has a willingness to cooperate, never giving up. This dog motivates others and takes reading risks. The spirit dog does a great job supporting their team by being kind and encouraging!
Every Lead Dog and Spirit Dog is awarded a little plush husky which we provide to the schools. Behind the scenes a dramatic race unfolded involving these plush huskies that mirrored the challenges faced by their flesh and blood counterparts. I was exceedingly worried this year as plush animals have been particularly hard hit by supply chain issues. Before the holidays I had a plush order from Fiesta, one of the two companies that have mini huskies, with 27 types of animals ordered off a two-day-old in-stock spreadsheet. It turned out that only 3 were really in stock to ship. My heart ran chill with dread when I got no reply from my Fiesta rep. I turned to the other company, Unipak, with anxious but hopeful eyes.
What a ghastly failure it would have been to be late to the finish line without the Iditaread prizes. As you can see below, however, this much is right with the world. Unipak had delivered.