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.

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!!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.
* SledDogsThroughTheSnow: The plot involves Willy and his dog Searchlight taking part in a sled dog race to win money to save Willy's grandfather's farm.
* TheStoic: Stone Fox.
* WouldHurtAChild: Stone Fox smacks Willy in the face when he catches the boy near his Samoyed dogs in a barn.
* YouShallNotPass: Pulled by Stone Fox as a PetTheDog moment. He tells all other racers that he will kill them if they try to go past him and beat Willy at the race. Presumably they are also armed, but they don't try.
* SavingTheOrphanage: "Save The Farm" sub-variant.
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