With help from his father, who runs a mountain-climbing school, and under pressure to beat a rapidly approaching lightning storm, Axel climbs a sheer cliff to rescue his stranded dog. George expertly weaves in many details about mountain climbing, safety, and the nature of storms without compromising the suspense of the story line. Unfamiliar words (carabiner, rappel) are made clear in context and illustrations, without wordy definitions. The realistic art advances the tension and effectively reveals Axel’s prowess as a climber. After the dog is lowered from its perch by a rope and harness, the boy must make his way back down. He runs short of rope and must descend the final segment of the rock face in a free climb. Both father and son are relieved when he reaches the ground safely. This is an especially good read for adventure-loving, active, outdoor kids, or for anyone who just loves a good story.


There’s a storm coming in the Tetons, and Axel, whose father runs the rock-climbing school, is distresses to hear that his dog, Grits, is stranded on the mountain. With his father as support, Axel sets out to rescue Grits even as the storm rages; he climbs up a vertical face to rescue the panicky pup, hangs on as the storm passes directly overhead, and then engages in a daring free descent after his rope has been used to lower his canine buddy. ...There are a lot of adventure-loving kids too young for Hatchet or even Petersen’s White Water; this may be just the rugged outing they’ve been seeking.


Set in the Teton Mountains, this adventure story of a young boy rock climbing to save his stranded dog will be sure to entice those outdoorsy readers. A lightning storm is on its way when Axel realizes that his dog, Grits, is stranded up on a mountain ledge. His father, Dag, who runs the mountain climbing school, helps Axel begin the ascent to his dog. Racing with the storm, Axel does not let the storm break his careful concentration. Rock climbing can be a dangerous sport if not done correctly. Bit by bit, Axel approaches the ledge where his nervous dog waits. Once there, he carefully ropes himself to the wall of the outcropping and he and Grits wait out the storm. Grits is lowered to the ground, and once there safely, Axel starts his descent. Dag coaches him and tells him the best way to get down. Careful climbing is important as much on a descent as an ascent and Axel carefully reaches the bottom. Over a makeshift fire, Dag and Axel share some soup as they wait with Grits until the storm has left the valley. They all realize how scary what they just did was, but a part of them wouldn’t have it any other way. Wendell Minor’s paintings of the Tetons are glorious and his attention to detail makes Axel’s adventure very real indeed.


When his dog, Grits, is stranded atop the Tetons’ Cathedral Wal in a thunderstorm, Axel, an experienced rock climber, attempts a harrowing rescue with the help of his dad, who runs a climbing school. Minor’s exquisitely detailed watercolors are the perfect complement to this suspensful tale of boy-loves-dog.

From Mark Feenstra,

“I absolutely love it! I’ll definitely be recommending it to my friends with children, and I know there are a few people without that will still love it.”

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