Friday, November 29, 2013

The Metro Dogs of Moscow

Lately, I have been knee-deep in this at work:

Neat little piles of Blue Spruce, Red Maple, Silver Birch Fiction, SB Express, and Silver Birch Non-Fiction books

The nominated titles for the 2014 Forest of Reading have all arrived. What remains is to process them, and to read as many as I can before we officially kick off the reading programs in the new year.

Last week I had the immense pleasure of reading the Silver Birch-nominated title, The Metro Dogs of Moscow, by Rachelle Delaney.

I had heard of this junior novel before the OLA nominations were announced in October. And of course I had it on my list of books to read. Thanks to Daughter1, I have a bit of a Russian fascination happening. But outside of my personal connection to the story's setting, I adored this book.  It is an adventure/mystery novel perfect for both boys and girls in grades 3-6. Dog lovers are sure to enjoy it. I couldn't help but be reminded of another adventurous literary Jack Russell puppy, Wishbone - from the 90's television show of the same name. Metro Dogs is easy to read; has a nice, natural flow to the plot; likeable characters; an engaging sense of humour, and a fascinating setting. This would also make a great read-aloud for this age group.

JR is the pet of a Canadian Embassy worker stationed in Moscow. Not content with remaining in an apartment while his human goes out on the town in the evenings, JR finds a way to escape, and he eventually meets up with the stray dogs that he has seen while out on his "walkies" with George. Appearances are not always what they seem, and despite their mangy exteriors, JR is able to strike up a friendship with these strays. Mystery and adventure ensue as first the strays, and then another embassy dog go missing from the streets of Moscow.

Upon finishing this book, I would have loved to sit down with Ms. Delaney and chat about each other's Moscow experiences and impressions. And isn't this what a good book does? It allows the reader to make a connection and leaves you wanting to  talk about the book with anyone who shares this connection. Unfortunately, Daughter1 was embroiled in print deadlines when I turned the last page of Metro Dogs - I had to be satisfied with a few quick text messages back and forth about the book. I laughed out loud at the image of Katerina running after JR in her high heels, because I know that a stiletto-clad woman with model good looks is not an unusual thing to see.

 And the description of the parking etiquette? How's this for an example?

Everything about The Metro Dogs of Moscow took me back to my too-short stay in Moscow in 2011. My first sighting of Red Square, an amazing sunny afternoon strolling the Arbat, and the must-see Metro itself.  My one huge regret? Not talking Miss Healthy Eating-Obsessed into letting us sample something from Kroshka Kartoshka. Next time? You bet!

Delaney, Rachelle. The Metro Dogs of Moscow. Penguin Canada, 2013.
224 p.
Nominated title - Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading 2014.


  1. Okay first of all, I would have totally brought you guys to Kroshka Kartoshka if Dad wasn't always wandering off to the ice cream stands! Also, I don't really get the healthy eating dig here, because KK is actually a pretty healthy choice when it comes to fast food, and I ate there a few times while I was living in Russia.

    Secondly, this book sounds really cute and I want to read it! Stray dogs are definitely all over Moscow and its suburbs, but they never end up going hungry because babushkas always feed them. Still, I worried about them over the winter when it was so cold. Maybe they warmed up by chasing me as I ran around Mytishi!

  2. Yes, he did like those ice cream kiosks, didn't he? Sorry, I was just thinking about the carbs and all the toppings .... and yes, you would enjoy the Metro Dogs of Moscow, for sure.


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