cover image The Dogs of Winter

The Dogs of Winter

Bobbie Pyron. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-545-39930-2

As she did in A Dog’s Way Home (2011), Pyron delivers a reflective, hard-hitting story about the bond between child and dog—in this case, seven of them. Inspired by the real-life story of a boy who survived on the streets of Moscow in the mid-1990s, the novel exposes the plight of many homeless, orphaned Russian children after the fall of the Soviet Union. Mishka—abandoned at age five by an abusive man who lived with (and presumably killed) Mishka’s mother—befriends a pack of bedraggled wild dogs; together, they beg and forage for food, sleep in metro stations, ride trains to stay warm, and avoid military personnel intent on capturing them. The book’s emotional impact is immense; Mishka grapples with his identity as his memories of his mother gradually fade and he becomes increasingly feral. Though some scenes of Mishka and the dogs’ trials can be a bit repetitive, their sameness underscores their unremitting and often heartbreaking battle to survive, day after day. Ages 10–14. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Oct.)