A racy romp for young readers involving spies, and helicopters, and a dramatic dash across a border.
Joshua Doder is the pseudonym of Josh Lacey, the author of Bearkeeper and the Misfitz Mysteries. He worked as a journalist, a screenwriter and a teacher before writing his first book for children, A Dog Called Grk. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
Gr 5-7-Grk, a small white dog with black eyes, finds Tim Malt near Tim's London home, setting into motion a series of fantastic, heroic, often fast-paced and sometimes humorous adventures. Grk belonged to Natascha Raffifi, the daughter of Stanislavia's ambassador to England. When a cruel dictator takes control of this small, mountainous country in Eastern Europe, the Raffifis are arrested and returned to their homeland. Tim's parents will not let him keep the dog, and so he sets out to find its owner. His ingenuity gets him from England to Stanislavia, where he is propelled into action that ultimately reunites Grk with Natascha and her brother, Max, and results in their escape from prison. Some characters are caricatures; many are likable and move the events quickly if implausibly to a satisfying resolution. Max, in particular, is used to insert occasional political commentary that seems to foreshadow his future. By novel's end, the children and Grk settle in with the Malts in London, with the promise of another adventure in which the murder of Max and Natascha's parents will be avenged.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Rich, lonely schoolboy Timothy Malt is determined to return a stray dog to its owners, even when it turns out that they are imprisoned in a foreign country, thousands of miles from his English home. Natascha and Max Raffifi, along with their diplomat parents, have been kidnapped by "Secret Police" from their native Stanislavia, where the democratically elected government has just been overthrown by the villainous Colonel Zinfandel. British author Doder sets a whimsically slapstick tone for the proceedings, through the perspective of an omniscient narrator ("I should tell you about Grk's owners... In order to do that, we must go back in time"). Using his father's credit card, Tim books a flight to Vilnetto for himself and the dog (whom he later learns is named Grk, a Stanislavian word roughly translated as "brave, generous and foolish"). Then, deploying skills he learned playing computer helicopter simulation games, break the Raffifi kids out of prison. The often humorous hyperbole woven into the text is jarringly interrupted by the murder of Ambassador Raffifi and his wife, and a few drop-kicks for adorable Grk (though the dog does extract a measure of revenge by sinking his teeth into several ankles). Aside from the difference in tone, this fast-paced tale may well appeal to Alex Rider fans. A sequel, Grk and the Pelotti Gang, is due in November. Trudie Styler acquired the rights to the Grk trilogy last September for her production company. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"... touching, crazy and smart ... If your children are too young for Horowitz's teenaged spy series, this is a good alternative. The best joke of all is that a child who has done nothing but play computer games knows how to fly a helicopter." -- Amanda Craig The Times "... the benefits of being a computer nerd are aptly demonstrated. Tim pilots a helicopter accompanied by GRK (brave, generous and foolish in Stanislavian) to rescue his owners, Max and Natascha, after a coup by evil Colonel Zinfandel." Financial Times (UK and Ireland) "Tim finds a stray dog on his way home from school, but his parents refuse to let him keep it. He discovers the owner lives thousands of miles away - in prison! Tim knows he must return him so he makes a plan; he will travel by taxi, then plane to Eastern Europe. All he has to do then is break into the high security prison to return the dog - all without getting caught. Will he manage it?" pdsa pet protectors "A really great story for all who long for adventure." -- Rosalind Kerven Northern Echo "A friendship and a story guaranteed to keep you glued to your chair." -- Karen Hart Wanstead and Woodford Guardian