Friday, May 4, 2012

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic

written and illustrated by Mônica Carnesi
Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin
January 5, 2012 | $15.99

I am not a sucker for animals. I don't have a pet at home and don't miss the one my family had as a child. Surprisingly, I took one look at Little Dog Lost and fell in love with Dog (Baltic, as he comes to be called). The story is perfectly written, almost like an early reader, with repetition and the perfect mix of worry and hope. In Poland, on the Vistula River, something on an ice floe floats by a group of children on the river bank.  They wonder, "Is it a bird? No. Is it a fish? No." Then the realization: "It's a DOG!" Firefighters are called to help with the rescue, but Dog floats too far out (see spread below). Two days later, after a long, cold journey, Dog is spotted by the Baltica, a ship, in the Baltic Sea, and rescued, warmed up, fed, named, and adopted. All is well.

The illustrations are endearing - at one point the text says, "Oh no! Where is Dog?" as only little paws are visible on a piece of ice after Dog loses his footing and falls into the river. The illustration where Baltic thanks a rescuer with a wagging tail is seen from above, a perspective not seen too often in picturebooks and executed well here. The text is simple but full of anticipation. Each page turn will have little (and not so little) readers on the edge of their seats and breathing a sigh of relief in the end when Baltic the Dog is safe.

Be sure to check out the printed end papers with the map of Baltic's journey and the back matter where Carnesi explains the facts behind this story. And don't miss the title page and publication information page - this is where the story actually begins, as Carnesi imagines how Baltic got on the ice in the first place. Since nobody really knows, she offers a simple, yet entirely plausible explanation that I just love. I hope you will too.

(Click photo to see it bigger) Text on this spread: "But the river flows too fast. The little dog floats away with the current, past the people and past the buildings. Dog leaves everyone behind."

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