Today’s Pick: The Metro Dogs of Moscow
by Rachelle Delaney
Penguin Group, 2013
JR (short for Jack Russell) is an embassy dog. His human, George, works in embassies around the world and so they both travel. A lot. Now George is working at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow. While George loves the globetrotting life, he doesn’t think JR needs any more excitement than hanging out at the park with the other embassy dogs.
JR, however, has had quite enough of leashes and perfectly manicured parks—not to mention the boring embassy dogs. Inspired by seeing a stray dog steal a coil of sausages, JR sneaks out of his apartment to do a little exploring on his own and soon meets up with the wily stray and some of his friends. This is the life: amazing city smells! Mouthwatering stuffed potatoes! And best of all, the freedom to travel on the Moscow subway.
But then JR's new friends mysteriously start to disappear. When an embassy dog goes missing as well, JR knows he must use everything he’s learned about his new home to solve the mystery of Moscow’s missing dogs.
It’s always interesting to read stories that are narrated from a very different point of view—in the case, a dog’s perspective. JR was a fun character to tag along with on an adventure. I especially enjoyed the setting. I learned a little bit about Moscow and Russian food while reading this book. I haven’t read many middle grade books set in Russia before. I like the bits of humor the author sprinkled into the story.
As a writer, I thought the writing style captured JR’s doggy personality. The phrasing and word choice kept me anchored in the dog’s perspective.
“The key turned in the lock.”
“Very Bad Things always happened—so fast he couldn’t stop them even if he wanted to. One second he’d be doing something innocent, like counting ceiling tiles, and the next second he’d be mauling the coffee table.”
“The Sit-and-Look-Cute.” Fyodor grinned. “It’s when you just sit there and bat your eyelashes until someone gives you food.”
“He blinked and yawned, stretching in the sunbeam that had made for the ideal Saturday morning nap.”
When she’s not writing novels, Rachelle Delaney enjoys adventures like tree climbing, trail running and snowshoeing.
On her website, Rachelle mentions that she was inspired to write this book after reading a newspaper story about stray dogs in Moscow that ride the subway.
In an interview with Vikki VanSickle, Rachelle Delaney talks about how reading books as a child influenced her writing: “My favourite books were usually about animals, so yes, they’ve definitely inspired me.”
Rachelle Delaney's new adventure with JR and some of his dog friends, The Circus Dogs of Prague, is being released at the end of April.
Other books by this author include:
The Ship of Lost Souls
The Lost Souls of Island X
The Hunt for the Panther
For more, visit Rachelle Delaney’s website.
If you’re interested in what I have to say about some of the other nominees for the 2014 Silver Birch Award, these are the ones I’ve read so far: Eldritch Manor by Kim Thompson, Nobody's Dog by Ria Voros, Ultra by David Carroll, The Curse of the Dream Witch by Allan Stratton, The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman, Record Breaker by Robin Stevenson, Yesterday’s Dead by Pat Bourke and Neil Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure by Kevin Sylvester. One more to go!