by Bobbie Pyron
Arther A. Levine Books, 2012
Middle Grade Adventure
Grades 3 and up
Print copy received as part of blog tour in return for honest review.
All opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A small boy, a cruel city, and the incredible dogs who save him.
Based on a true story!
When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form: Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs, and the dogs quickly become more than just his street companions: They become his family. Soon Ivan, who used to love reading fairytales, is practically living in one, as he and his pack roam the city and countryside, using their wits to find food and shelter, dodging danger, begging for coins. But Ivan can’t stay hidden from the world of people forever. When help is finally offered to him, will he be able to accept it? Will he even want to?
A heart-pounding tale of survival and a moving look at what makes us human.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bobbie was born in Hollywood, Florida and spent her growing up years up in the panhandle, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and dreaming of being a mermaid. She has degrees in Psychology and Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Library Science, and has worked as a librarian for over twenty-five years.
Her first book, a novel for teens titled The Ring (WestSide Books), was published in October of 2009. Her second book, A Dog's Way Home (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books), was published to starred reviews in March of 2011. The Dog Writers Association of America recently awarded Bobbie the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. It was also named a Banks Street Best Books of the Year.
Her new book, The Dogs of Winter (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic), came out October of 2012. The Dogs of Winter is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Kirkus Best 100 Children's Books of the Year. Bobbie lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, three dogs, and two cats.
Bobbie's Website. Be sure to check out her biography, lots of fun information. Also be sure to check out my review here.
What is the 'story behind the story'?
THE DOGS OF WINTER was inspired by the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a 4-year-old boy in Russia who lived homeless on the streets of Moscow in the mid 1990s. For two years, he survived brutal winters, starvation, and the ever-present threats of gangs of older children, because he was adopted by a pack of feral street dogs. I first read about Ivan’s amazing story back in 2005, in a magazine article on feral children. I was completely blown away. First of all, I couldn’t imagine a child that young living (much less surviving) on the streets of Russia; secondly, when I read that he was just one of tens of thousands of children homeless in Moscow at that time, I couldn’t understand it. I mean, this wasn’t after WWII or after the Russian revolution—this was recent! So, being the good librarian I am, I started doing research. One of the many things I learned was the fall of the Soviet Union was absolutely devastating to the people of Russia, on a socioeconomic level. We tend to think of it in this country as the fall of the Evil Empire. But say what you will about the Soviet Union, there were lots of safety nets in place for those living on the edge and the elderly. Those all went away after the fall. Within a few short years, there were an estimated 80,000 to 1 million children and teens living on the streets, trying to survive. Ivan was just one of those children.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and what would you do there?
For some reason, I’m really drawn to Mongolia. I don’t know why! Perhaps it’s the light on the vast plains, perhaps it’s how little the life of the nomads has changed in the last 400 or so years. I’ve been to many of the places I’ve dreamed of going: Scotland, Ireland, Nepal, Bhutan. But Mongolia calls to me. What would I do there? Watch and listen.
What is something that most people don't know about you?
My great, great aunt was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. My grandfather used to say that’s where I got my “troublemaker genes” from.
What do you especially enjoy about writing?
I love creating characters! I love letting them do whatever they want and see where they lead me. It’s magical and I try not to analyze it too much. Or at all, really. I also love connecting with readers, getting those fan emails, meeting them at book signings or on Skype visits. Writing for kids is the best because they are so very passionate about what they love!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
When I’m not at my desk writing or working at the library, I’m out with my three dogs. I am passionate about being outdoors with them, whether it’s hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, or just meandering along a stream. I have to be out in Nature every day. I have a wild heart.
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