If there was a holy trinity of {{Anvilicious}} DeathByNewberyMedal children's ''literature,'' it would be ''Literature/BridgeToTerabithia,'' ''Literature/WhereTheRedFernGrows,'' and... this book.

Little Willy and his dog Searchlight live in Wyoming, and Little Willy's grandfather, though otherwise perfectly healthy, has come down with a bad case of losing-his-will-to-live. The reason? He owes the state $500 in taxes, and they're threatening to take away his farm. So Little Willy and Searchlight, despite having absolutely no training, decide to sign up for a sled dog race with $500 dollars as the prize money. Their main competitor is Stone Fox, [[MagicalNativeAmerican a Native American man who never ever talks to white people and has never lost a race with his trusty Samoyeds.]] Little Willy and Searchlight place all their hopes of saving Grandpa's farm on the race!

[[DeusAngstMachina Searchlight dies of a heart attack just feet away from the finish line.]] Then Stone Fox draws a new line in the snow, pulls his gun on the rest of the racers and threatens to shoot them if any of them cross this line, [[PetTheDog and allows Little Willy to carry Searchlight's body the rest of the way to the finish line.]]

As the description suggests, this short novel (written in 1980 by John Reynolds Gardiner) is very much one of ''[[DeathByNewberyMedal those]]'' books. It was, however, very popular. It's been read by millions of children (and assigned reading in many schools), and had a 1987 MadeForTVMovie adaptation. Produced by Creator/HannaBarbera, no less.

!!This book contains examples of:

* BittersweetEnding: Willy presumably wins the money to save the farm and Grandfather gets better, but Searchlight is dead.
* DeathByNewberyMedal: Poor Searchlight. At least her death is quick and painless.
* DeathByDespair: According to the town doctor Willy's grandfather is close to this, having lost the will to live when faced with the prospect of losing his farm over a hefty tax fine. Luckily, he recovers and is able to come to the race to cheer for Willy.
* DesignatedVillain: Though a JerkAss, the tax man is only doing his job.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Everyone in the crowd is shocked by Searchlight's death, even the {{Jerkass}} tax man.
* EyeScream: After being hit in the face for going too close to Stone Fox's dogs, one of Willy's eyes is swollen shut for the rest of the story.
* InstantExpert: Searchlight, despite having no training, instantly takes the lead in the sled dog race. Also despite, you know, being only one dog. She's only pulling a kid, but still...
** Justified, as they are able to take a short cut across a frozen pond that the other, heavier teams can't.
* KidHero: Little Willy certainly wants to be one, at least for his grandfather.
* MagicalNativeAmerican: Averted. Stone Fox is a skilled racer who just happens to be Native American.
* OldDog: Subverted by Searchlight, who was born on the same day as the ten-year-old protagonist yet is still just as reliable and energetic as a much younger dog would be. [[DoubleSubverted Sadly, her age catches up to her.]]
* PetTheDog: Stone Fox conceding his victory to Willy. In a more literal sense, he's very caring and protective towards his sled dogs.
* RaisedByGrandparents: Little Willy, at least until poor Grandfather gets sick.
* RealityEnsues: Searchlight may still have had her youthful energy, but her body was still old. And she had never been properly trained as a competitive racing dog. It's no surprise that her heart would give out under the intense strain.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: The bank manager who refuses to let Willy take out his college fund early and repeatedly expresses his doubts about Willy being able to save the farm/survive on his own, is only doing something he, understandably thinks is best.
* TheRival: Stone Fox, again. He's not the only other competitor in the race, but he's expected to be the hardest to defeat.
* TheStoic: Stone Fox.
* WouldHurtAChild: Stone Fox smacks Willy in the face when he catches the boy near his Samoyed dogs in a barn.
* SavingTheOrphanage: "Save The Farm" sub-variant.