Gilly & the Snowcats

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Publisher Description

Gillian Wells is a twelve year-old girl living in Alaska.  Her father was a well-known dog musher who had raced in the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, but has retired from sled dog racing and sold his dogs.  Gilly is inspired by the female mushers to do the race on her own.  Her mother is a veterinarian and has always encouraged Gilly to pursue her dreams.  But they have no dogs. Gilly learns of the Swedish goddess Freya who was pulled in a chariot by her two cats and determines to enter the Iditarod with a team of felines.  Gilly has two cats, Lola and Shadow, and recruiting a team of seven more cats proves a challenge in itself.  After some serendipitous escapades she has her scruffy, but dedicated harness mates: Shadow, Lola, Sasha, Ravi, Sal, Che, Kip, Max, and later Simone.  While her parents are on vacation, she enters the race.  A succession of harrowing adventures follow.  Like Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Kate Dicamillo’s Despereaux, and Lyra in Philip Pullman’s The Magic Compass, Gilly embarks on a Hero(ine) quest that requires bravery, innovation, and endurance.   Can she manage, against significant odds, to complete the race, or even survive? Halted by a raging river, they are assisted by Castor, the beaver, and later a wild lynx, Simone.  Confrontations with a vicious wolverine (Hugh), a belligerent moose, and finally Sable and her wolf pack nearly end their journey and their lives.  They are befriended a guardian snow owl, Boreas, and an Athabaskan shaman, Ukpik, who gives Gilly a sacred, magic amulet.    When all seems lost, her faithful cats are mystically transformed into the primordial felines of their respective breeds who once crossed the glaciated Bering Strait landmass, giant cats of the veldt, mountain & jungle: a Siberian tiger, a Himalayan snow leopard, a Serengeti lion, a puma, a black panther, a cheetah, a jaguar, and a spotted leopard.  Gilly too is transformed and emerges stronger and wiser.  They are tested further by the brutal cold and an Alaskan blizzard, the supernatural and beastly Windigo, the breaking ice floes of Norton Sound, a pod of Orcas, a gigantic polar bear, Oolab, and, of course, human evil.  Near the end of the race, as they are overtaking Mean Zeke, the sun is rising and the cats begin to revert to their normal selves.  It is an Iditarod finish unlike any other.  

Young Adult
November 10
Mill City Press
Hillcrest Publishing Group, Inc.

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