Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

The Great Escape, by Megan Rix, 210 pages.
In the dark days of World War II, many children in the city of London, England were evacuated to the countryside for safety. Such was the case with Robert and Lucy Edwards, who were sent across the country to stay with their grandmother on a farm in Devon. Their parents were away, serving with the war effort.  As a pilot, Mr. Edwards was in the thick of Britain’s Battle of the Sky, and Mrs. Edwards was a nurse on a floating hospital in the English Channel.
Three family members were left behind in London – two dogs and a cat.
The family would have never abandoned their beloved pets intentionally, but in an unfortunate series of mix-ups, the trio did not end up where they were supposed to be.  Eventually, they ended up at a shelter to be put down.
Sensing danger, the animals managed to slip away from the shelter, but this was only the beginning of their “great escape”.
The dogs, Rose and Buster, and Tiger, the cat, set out on a long journey out of the city and across England to Devon, where Rose had once lived on a farm. They persevered through hunger, illness, misfortune and danger, eventually reaching the very place where Lucy and Robert were staying.
As the story unfolds, readers will enjoy discovering the personalities of the brave and intrepid pets: Rose, an intelligent and faithful collie; Buster, a spirited Jack Russell, and Tiger, a feisty white and ginger tom cat.
This heartwarming tale, somewhat similar to Sheila Burnford’s The Incredible Journey, will charm those who enjoy animal and/or adventure stories.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.  

My Dog is a Hero by Anita Ganeri, 96 pages.
Some working dogs have amazing jobs, and some have even become heroes.
Dogs can be valuable members of emergency services, helping to locate trapped and injured people in disaster zones with their keen sense of smell. Did you know that a German Shepherd, Trakr, found the last person to be pulled out alive from the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 disaster?  Nearly one hundred search dogs helped to look for survivors in the huge area of concrete and metal debris. Trakr and his handler were later presented with the prestigious Extraordinary Service to Humanity Award by the United Nations.
Other search dogs help to locate missing hikers and climbers in remote areas, people trapped in snow after an avalanche and people buried in the debris of a rock slide or a mud slide. Trained to save lives and brave the most dangerous situations, these animals work as combat dogs and explosives detector dogs with soldiers, as water rescue dogs, and as tracking dogs with the police.
Canines also work as guide and assistance dogs for people who are visually or physically impaired.
Which dog breed has the keenest sense of smell? The bloodhound is three times better at recognizing scents than other breeds and can actually pick out a scent from a mixture of thousands!
Sometimes ordinary family dogs perform extraordinary acts, even risking their own lives to protect or save members of their human families. For example, owners have been awakened and alerted to house fires by their dogs.
From rescue dogs to guide dogs to beloved family pets, Anita Ganeri’s book, which includes lots of colourful real-life photos of canines in action, shows us just how very special and talented dogs can be!

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on August 15, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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