The Metro Dogs of Moscow by R. Delaney
Delaney, Rachelle. The Metro Dogs of Moscow. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2013. Print.
When Edmonton and I were much younger—and regulation much more discretionary –our neighbour’s cocker spaniel, “Connie McCormack,” took the bus to the Safeway, helped herself to a package of meat, and rode back home with her prize.
So do I believe that Delaney’s protagonist, JR, a little Jack Russell terrier, could ride the metro lines of Moscow, embark and disembark at the Ploshchad Revolutsii station, find his way to 460 Petrovsky in the warehouse district, and rescue a pack of stray dogs? Absolutely. With all my heart. As will children of elementary school age. If they don’t, they will surely suspend disbelief; the plot line is compelling, the anthropomorphism a mere literary necessity. The book’s vocabulary and sentence structure are well suited to those who have mastered the basic reading skills of the primary school curriculum. The copy reviewed was in paperback format; even so, the large font, wide spacing, and qualities of ink and paper were easy on the eyes.
As a bonus feature, The Metro Dogs of Moscow stimulates interest in a nation that has played a powerful role in world affairs for centuries and that is often in the media spotlight today. Without getting into the serious issues involving Chechnya, the Crimea, and the Ukraine (to say nothing of the Canadian Arctic) a parent or elementary teacher might at least get out the globe and say, “Let’s find Moscow. What country is it in? Does this country have hockey teams? Figure skaters? Ballet dancers?” Because JR’s owner is an embassy staffer, one might also introduce the idea that embassies, diplomats and diplomacy keep nations talking with, and not warring with each other. If the world is to achieve harmony, we must be able to imagine that other people queue up for “Kroshka Kartoshka” in the same way that we queue up for “double-doubles” and doughnuts. In the telling of this tale, Delaney encourages us to do so.
Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Leslie Aitken
Leslie Aitken’s long career in librarianship involved selection of children’s literature for school, public, special, and university collections. She is a former Curriculum Librarian at the University of Alberta.
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