Author’s book makes appearance 20 years after first written

• New book: ‘Phantom Poodle of Rainy Pass’

by Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune
For nearly 20 years Dan and Nancy Levinson relished their front row seats to the Iditarod Trail Dog Race finish in Nome, but one sight especially captured Dan’s imagination.
It was the day a team of poodles pulled the sled and musher John Suter into town.
The Levinsons housed the mushers, fed them and got them rested at the end of the 1,000 mile trail. They hosted the Suters and those poodles a few years in a row.
“A lot of mushers had mixed feelings about the poodles. Dan got the idea he wanted to write a story. He wanted it to be a children’s story, but as a high school science teacher, he hadn’t much experience with younger kids,” his widow recalls. “He wrote the manuscript but didn’t finish it.”
The Levinsons moved to Homer in 1990. Just before Dan died in October 2003, he gave the manuscript to Suter. It sat 10 years amongst Suter’s things, then in May, the former dog musher pulled it out.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - Nancy Levinson shows the newly published book produced posthumously for Dan Levinson. His imagination was inspired by the true story of poodles competing in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda -
Nancy Levinson shows the newly published book produced posthumously for Dan Levinson. His imagination was inspired by the true story of poodles competing in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

It was time to finish the project. “He called me in May and said he didn’t know what to do, but he knew people who would publish it.”
The book, “Phantom Poodle of Rainy Pass” by Dan Levinson made its appearance last week, illustrated by Ginger Nielson, a well-known illustrator who lives in New Hampshire.
It’s the story of two young girls on an outing in Rainy Pass after the Iditarod race is over. They find a black poodle wandering lost and hungry, and bring it home. The dog’s owner is located and in relief he gets back to Nome to claim his lost dog.
The musher of poodles gets more than few puzzled questions. One of the girls, Rose, looks at the dog and asks, “We thought poodles were little sissy dogs. Can these big ones really pull sleds?”
“Well,” said the Poodleman smiling. “They may not go as long and strong as the best huskies, but they helped me go over a thousand miles to Nome. Their ancestors were working dogs, not cream puffs on paws.”
The story would appeal to all ages, but is likely targeted for 4-6 graders. Dan Levinson, 1935-2003, was a high school science teacher in Nome. He retired to Homer, “an entirely different place,” said Nancy, in 1990. This is the only story he ever wrote down though he enjoyed making up stories and telling of his adventures. It’s his wife who is the writer, a poet and currently completing a memoir. In Nome, she wrote a text book for her husband’s biology class. But this summer she spent editing and advising on the publication of the Phantom Poodle.
“It went relatively quickly – from the time John contacted me in May. By the end of August, the book arrived in the mail.”
The illustrator, Ginger Nielson, may have inadvertently encouraged the project she couldn’t yet have known about; she was given a story about flying poodles to illustrate. The author found John Suter and wanted to hear his story. He and his poodles completed the Iditarod four times and competed in 280 races over a-19-year period.
“They were wondering if this is so preposterous, the idea of flying poodles pulling Santa’s sleigh, and in the process heard his story. They figured maybe it’s not,” Levinson said.
Even though the children’s book is making an appearance many years after it showed up in Dan Levinson’s imagination, his widow sees it as a great time, this tenth year after his death.
“I think it is something the children will really enjoy,” she said.

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Posted by on Sep 18th, 2013 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses for “Author’s book makes appearance 20 years after first written”

  1. BILLIE MARTIN says:

    The Standard Poodle is the most misunderstood breed created. You bet they are not the fufu dogs projected in the Dog Show world. BUT because of all that hair & prancy foot work the breed has probably been preserved. I love showing the big macho guys just what this breed is really about. They have strong prey drive and as a hunting companion on water or field, flush & retrieve with the best of them. My GRCH SP was entered in a Weight Pull class. At 70 pounds he pulled 750 pounds which is over 10 times his body weight! He has his AKC CGC and he loves children & old people as we go to Nursing Homes & Schools. BUT beware he is also a guard dog (protective but not aggressive) and I always feel safe with him by my side.

  2. Karen Morss says:

    Nancy Levinson was instrumental in bringing this story to life! Her careful editing kept us on track! I want her to edit all my books!

    Karen Morss
    Poodle Dog Productions

  3. I loved reading about Nancy’s memories of Dan writing the story about the lost sled dog. It filled my heart with joy to know that it meant so much to her to see the story come to life.
    When I first read the manuscript I was hooked. Dan wrote so beautifully and the story really speaks to children and adults as well.
    The publisher, Karen Morss, who also wrote Flying Poodles, A Christmas Story, and Nancy were industrious when it came to edits, and proof reading. Karen also added some wonderful photos of John Suter and his poodles as well as some recipes for the foods mentioned in the book.
    To be chosen to illustrate the story was a very special gift for me. I am sure Dan’s former students will truly enjoy the story as will those who know John Suter, the Poodleman.

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