Laika: Astronaut Dog

illus. by author. 32p. photos. Candlewick/Templar. 2013. RTE $15.99. ISBN 9780763668228. LC 2012950622.
K-Gr 3—In 1957, a stray dog found and trained in Russia became the first animal to orbit the Earth. Davey imagines Laika's loneliness on the streets and in Sputnik 2. When contact is lost with the rocket, she is presumed dead. While memorials are raised to the heroic hound's memory, this fictionalized biography descends into fantasy when Davey imagines her rescued and in the loving arms of an alien family. The highly stylized blue, gold, and black digital art features bold shapes and perspectives and suggests a sense of Soviet propaganda posters of the era and the drama of space flight. While the art has a tour de force sweep, the premise and the ending are problematic. The story implies that there was an expectation of Laika's return, but history indicates that the technology at the time did not support this outcome. An author's note saying this is Davey's preferred, happier version of Laika's life doesn't ameliorate the liberties taken with the facts. Consider this book lost in space.—Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI
Davey departs from history (and science) to reimagine the fate of Laika, the stray dog shot into space by the USSR rocket Sputnik 2 in 1957. Only the barest facts are provided in this sentimental alternate version, complete with a happily-ever-after ending: a "loving family" of green aliens embraces the lonely dog. The stylish digital illustrations lend the book its charming retro feel.

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