Painter and Ugly

Painter and Ugly
By Robert J. Blake

written and illustrated by Robert J. Blake

Available at: Local Bookstore | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

  • Keystone to Reading Book Award
  • 1st place Missouri Association of School Librarians Readers Award

Painter and Ugly are best friends. They run together, they swim together, they eat out of the same dinner bowls. When one calls out, "Yip," the other answers back. They are inseparable! That is, until they are forced apart and put on two different teams for the junior Iditarod. But nothing can keep them apart. When during the race Painter finds a boy musher alone, stranded on the trail, he calls out, "Yip!" and Ugly answers his call. These old friends team up to finish the race, together again, side by side.

I stayed with a family in North Pole, Alaska, that had two children participating in the Jr. Iditarod. I helped feed the dogs and even mushed the dogs. A dog named Painter became my favorite. He was a nice dog but his best friend, a dog named Ugly (no kidding!) had been sold to another team. I began to wonder- what would happen if Painter and Ugly were both racing in the Jr. Iditarod, but on different teams? Would they try to get back together?

Blake’s timing is just right in his description of the race, and tension builds as the two dogs lead their teams through the wilderness, working hard and hoping to see each another again. An engaging tale of friendship, loyalty and separation...
— Kirkus Reviews
The illustrations of the dogs are particularly amazing: any dog lover will recognize the authenticity of movement, facial expressions, and diversity Blake captures in his depiction of the sled dogs. The underlying message of friendship is strong and relatable to any child, particularly those who connect with animals on a deep level.
— Julie from

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