Title: Laika

Author: Nick Abadzis

Summary: This stunning graphic novel tells the true story of Laika, the first living being sent into space. After the launch of Sputnik, Soviet engineers are pressured to launch another satellite as soon as possible – this time, one that carries a passenger. High-spirited stray dog Kudryavka (Curly-Tail) is selected for the Soviet canine space program and becomes its star because of her ability to withstand the g-forces of liftoff and orbit, and her love of space gel ‘food.’ She is renamed Laika (Barker), and sent into space – but her satellite will never land.

You cannot help but fall in love with Laika. This heart-shattering book describes the Soviet story of the space race and the beginnings of the cold war, but it shows it’s true soul when telling the stories of the many people this scrappy little dog touched in her brief life: Her first owner, her sweet-natured trainer Yelena, and the chief of the Soviet satellite program – a complex man who was once a prisoner in a gulag, now a national hero. Recently a statue was dedicated to Laika in Moscow, a well-deserved tribute to an unforgettable dog.

Who will like this book?: People interested in the history of manned space flights. Animal lovers, if they are steely enough to make it all the way through…anyone who likes a book that makes them cry!

If you like this, try this: For another full-length graphic novel with a heart of gold (but with laughs instead of tears) try American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. For another heartfelt (yet offbeat) tale of a dog and friendship, look at the wordless Robot Dreams by Sara Varon.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian