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January 06, 1991|Charles Solomon

STICKEEN by John Muir, illustrated by Carl Dennis Buell (Heyday Books: $6.95). In 1880, naturalist John Muir left the camp his exploration party had struck in southeastern Alaska to scout a newly discovered glacier; his only companion was Stickeen, a jaunty mongrel that belonged to another member of the expedition. It was almost Muir's last trip: His enthusiasm for the glacier's austere beauty took him too far. He and Stickeen had to brave darkness, freezing rain and treacherous ice crevasses to regain camp. Somehow they survived, and Muir won the undying loyalty of the little dog that became his devoted companion. This brief narrative captures the terror of the bitter cold and the fear of death by exposure as intensely as does Jack London's more famous story, "To Build a Fire." An excellent book to read aloud to older children--by the fire.

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