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July 15, 2009

Posted by Lisa in Teen Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews.
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Nick Abadzis

New York: First Second, 2007

ISBN: 9781596431010

Age: 13-15


Laika is a heart wrenching story that is a combination of facts and fiction combined to tell about a historical period in the Soviet Union.  Laika, a small trusting dog was trained by Soviet Scientists to be the first space travel.  She wasn’t just a dog.  Laika was special to those who trained her for space.  Yelena Laika’s keeper fell hard for the little dog, but fulfilled her duty as she prepared Laika for the launch to space on Sputnik II. 

Korolev, a former political prisoner and chief designer of the Sputnik II space program was determined to send a live animal up in space.  His mission was so important he didn’t care that the little dog would not return to Earth after being sent out to space. 

My heart was broken when I read this story.  I thought the scientist were cruel to send up an animal who had no way of understanding what was happening to her.  This sacrifice was not worth the trip to space or the fame that it came about.  A picture of Laika can be found in the back of the book.

The illustrations and text in this graphic novel kept my attention throughout the story.  I felt for little Laika and her friends.  I wanted to find homes for them, so that they wouldn’t be treated so harshly.  This graphic novel has enough of the facts in it to provide the reader with important historical information.  I had no idea that the Soviet Union sent up a dog in space.   The format of the book does nothing to take away from the historical facts.  In fact, the illustrations made the information more real for me. I was very touched by the story. 

The cover is somewhat misleading.  The cartoon design doesn’t allow the reader to realize the seriousness of the information.  Instead, it makes the reader think the book will be a light hearted story about a dog.  Younger teens may pick this graphic novel up because they are looking for a light hearted “comic,” but older teens will pass it by because the cover looks childish.