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3/31: Ms. Yingling Reads
Hart, Alison. Leo, Dog of the Sea 1519-1521
April 1st 2017 by Peachtree Publishers
ARC provided by the publisher
Leo is a ratter on board the Trinidad, the lead ship in an armada on a journey to the Spice Islands and other ports of call. The men, and especially Espinosa, aren't very nice to him. They are glad that he keeps the rodent population down, but grudge him his meager rations. He finds a stowaway, Marco, on board, and has no desire to help the boy, although when he is found and threatened by the men, Leo feels oddly compelled to help him. Marco is put to work, and the ship battles bad weather, disease, sharks, and trouble with the crew. The men are frequently unhappy with the conditions on the ship, and the leadership deals harshly with any complaints or rebellion. Eventually, the ship heads to the New World. A scribe who is traveling on board, Pigafetta, keeps a journal about everything that occurs, and is friendly to both Marco and Leo. He is appalled when Magellan kills a number of natives when they land on the Isle of Thieves.When the ship lands at Cebu, they think that King Humabon will deal fairly with them, but the sailors are soon embroiled in a terrible battle. Pigafetta is disheartened after this, but Marco encourages him to not mourn Magellan, but to press on to the next journey.
Strengths: Like Darling, Finder, and Murphy, Leo covers history from a unique perspective. This is an action packed tale that readers who likes stories about adventure and fighting will enjoy. The descriptions of being on the boat are very vivid-- can't say it made me want to take to the high seas at all! I especially liked the historical notes at the back of the book. I sometimes encourage my students to read these first so that they will have a better understanding of the historical context. Explorers are studied in out 6th grade, so this will be a good book to have.
Weaknesses: It seemed odd to me that the sailors were so mean to Leo. I know he was a working dog, so they wouldn't necessarily cuddle with him. Just hard for me to believe that dogs aren't always considered loyal companions! At least at the end, Leo and Marco had a special bond. (I loved the interior art work.)
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, since this short (about 160 pages) and fast paced read will interest many.