Delaney, Rachelle. The Metro Dogs of Moscow
January 15th 2013, Puffin Canada
Nominated for the Cybils and copy provided by the publisher
JR is happy with his human, George, and enjoys his life traveling around the world, but when he ends up in Moscow and sees a homeless dog stealing sausages and looking like he's having a good time, he chafes at his constraints. When a window is conveniently left open, JR begins his adventure on the streets. When he meets Boris, Ania, and Fyodor, they introduce his to all of the pleasures of life in the wild-- baked potatoes stuffed with bacon, trips on the subway, and rolicking in the mud without a leash on. Some of the other embassy dogs see JR out and want to try this life, too, but they run in to problems when some of the street dogs and one of the embassy dogs disappear. JR and his friends manage to figure out the mystery without the humans knowing, and locate the missing dogs.
Strengths: We went back and forth on whether or not this was a fantasy book-- the dogs never do anything that isn't realistic, but they do talk to each other. This was mainly a romp-in-Moscow book, with the vehicle being dogs instead of children. The mystery is a nice touch, but again, the dogs solve it by noticing things, not by doing anything undoglike. A light, fun read, a bit reminiscent of Miss Bianca in the early pages of The Rescuers.
Weaknesses: I would have appreciated more background on the dog situation in Moscow-- I had no idea the were either a problem or famous. Some more local color, other than the food, would have added a lot to the book as well.