Author: Nick Abadzis
Genre: Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this from my school's library
Challenges: Graphic Novel (#6)
Summary: (from the inside flap): Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to bcome Earth's first space traveler. This is her journey. Nick Abadzis masterfully blends fiction and fact in the intertwined stories of three compelling lives. Along with Laika, there is Korolev, once a political prisoner, now a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program, and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika's health and life. This intense triangel is rendered with the pitch-perfect emotionality of classics like Because of Winn Dixie, Shiloh, and Old Yeller.
Abadzis gives life to a pivotal moment in modern history, casting light on the hidden moments of deep humanity behind the cold hard facts. It is so much more than history--Laika's story will speak straight to your heart.
Review: I am discovering that I really like reading some history in graphic novel form. For subjects that I am slightly interested in, it is the perfect format because it is quick, easy, and interesting. I would not read a full-fledged 200+ page book on the Soviet space program. However, a 200 page graphic novel with pretty intense illustrations is just right.
I like that the author brings us into the lives of the major players in Laika's story; they have depth and personality to them. As a reader I cared about the people involved in getting Laika into space as well as Laika herself. The testing the dogs went through, the politics behind the space program during the Cold War, and the inter-office issues/role of communism and patriotism were all really interesting.
Having grown up during the Cold War, this book was of particular interest. I wasn't alive during the Sputnik era (1957), but definitely remember the "space race" and competition with the Soviets in many spheres. As a former history teacher, this was a favorite subject to teach because it was fun to equate the Cold War tensions to high school cliques and our current issues with the Middle East. Students definitely understand the "us and them" issues. I liked reading about this era from the other side of the story as well. We tend to learn history from our point of view and I always think it's important to see the other side of whatever it is we're learning about.