I love hearing that books by authors I really like win awards. Last year, I really enjoyed Bobbie Pyron's A Dog's Way Home and while still at the bookstore I was able to hand-sell a ton of them. It was a great story, well-written and easy to read and a really nice story to share together with your kids or classroom.
I've had The Dogs of Winter sitting on my TBR shelf for awhile, but when I saw that Bobbie had made the Kirkus list of Best Children's Books of the Year, I knew it was time to pick it up. I don't always agree with Kirkus, but this time I definitely understood why the book received a star and why so many other people are raving about it. It was fantastic.
The haunting story of an orphan boy, forced to live on the streets and eventually "adopted" by a pack of stray dogs is incredibly sad, yet inspiring and SO memorable. The boy, along with so many other children during that time period, had his life completely turned upside-down by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. So much so that he basically became a feral animal -- one who learned to survive on the streets from canines. DOGS. It's incredible, astonishing, and taken straight from Russian headlines that Pyron researched.
I think kids are really going to connect with Ivan and his will to succeed. Though it's a tough story and a heavy topic, the writing has the ability to appeal to so many readers and the plot is paced perfectly to allow for discussion. This would make a great class read aloud -- in fact, I'm going to pick up a copy for one of my best teacher friends for Christmas!
The Dogs of Winter