In a continuation of The Metro Dogs of Moscow, Rachelle Delaney has sent her four-footed hero off on another adventure.
In an attempt to escape the summer heat and smog of Moscow, JR's human, George, and his likeable girlfriend, Nadya, have decided to spend a week in Prague. Not only can they enjoy the sights, but they can also visit Nadya's brother, Niko, who performs for Circus Sergei, a travelling Russian circus that would be visiting Prague at the same time. The more the merrier, so the happy couple and their Jack Russell terrier are accompanied by John, the Australian embassy worker; his two shepherds, Robert and Pie; and Beatrix, the diva keeshond, whose own human is unable to take time off.
Unlike in The Metro Dogs of Moscow, where the canine crew met up with stray dogs, on this adventure the dogs come face-to-face with a community of stray cats. One particular feline, whom Nadya takes in and names Kisa, threatens to take over JR's prime pet position. But there is little time for a jealous Jack Russell because the dogs soon find themselves in heavy demand to help save Circus Sergei. With JR as director, the animals hijack the show. It's up to the reader to find out if it's enough for the circus to survive.
The story line is a catchy one. More than one person has wanted to run away and join the circus. Where Ms. Delaney really shines is in her characterization and dialogue. And she does this with apparent ease. Readers will easily identify and fall in love with at least one of the characters - human, or otherwise. Will it be JR, the loyal, spunky, and quick-witted terrier? He's my personal favourite. But each of the characters is brimming with personality. There is a lot of dialogue in this book. How else is the reader supposed to know what the animals are thinking? But the mechanics of the conversations are done so smoothly.There is a flow to the dialogue that never gets bogged down or difficult to follow. And funny. Did I mention how humorous some of the sound bites are? Not to mention, full of emotion and attitude.
I didn't have the same personal connection with Prague as I did with Moscow, but still I felt immediately transported to this eastern European city. I could easily envision myself strolling among the Czech cake shops near the Charles Bridge. A pretty nice vision, for sure! I am excited to think of the possibilities that exist for future adventures with JR and the gang.
Written by Rachel Delaney
Ages 8 to 12
With sincere thanks to Penguin Canada (Puffin Books) for an ARC of The Circus Dogs of Prague.