As a child who could not get enough of ‘the secret lives of animals’ narrative- think 101 Dalmations, The Rescuers, The Aristocats- I very much appreciated this fun romp which seems tailor made for an animated film adaptation from Canadian author Rachelle Delaney.
JR is the dog of George, who works for the Canadian embassy. George travels a lot, which means JR doesn’t get what he most wants in the world: a home. When they arrive in Moscow, JR decides not to get too attached to the city, since they’ll probably be leaving sooner or later. But then he has a chance encounter with a group of savvy stray dogs who introduce him to history, delicious Russian food, and most importantly, adventure.
The premise is like catnip (pardon the cat reference in a post about dogs) to kids. The secret lives of dogs in a foreign city is not only a genius concept, it’s one based on reality! Check out this savvy stray on the metro system in Russia:
Delaney folds in bits of history and Russian culture throughout the narrative in a manner that is natural and not overwhelming. I particularly enjoyed the parts about ‘dog’ history, perfectly in keeping with the canine characters’ interests but also fun for readers.
Rachelle Delaney has a very classic take on the middle grade narrative. Her stories are gentle, well-paced, full of light humour, imagination, and carefully delivered character growth. I hesitate to use the term old-fashioned, because there is nothing stuffy or out-of-date about her writing. It is timeless rather than trendy. Her books would be comfortable alongside the work of Enid Blyton or Mary Norton. Younger readers (grade 2-4) who can handle novels but perhaps not older subject matter will be right at home with the Metro Dogs of Moscow, along with fans of the animal narrative, humour, and a unique concept.
The Metro Dogs of Moscow is available now from Penguin Canada.
Stay tuned for a Q&A with Rachelle sometime this month!
Vancouver folk! Rachelle will be holding a book launch at Kidsbooks (West Broadway location) on February 7th at 7pm. Click here for more info!