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Laika

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Overview

Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to become 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 and 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 triangle is rendered with the pitch-perfect emotionality ...

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Laika

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Overview

Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to become 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 and 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 triangle 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 history. Laika's story will speak straight to your heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When most people think of the space program, it's images of stalwart, clear-eyed astronauts roaring into the skies on rockets of destiny that come to mind-not Laika the dog. A Samoyed-Husky mutt caught off the streets and impressed into the Russian space program, Laika became in November of 1957 the first sentient being to leave Earth's orbit, inside the Sputnik 2 satellite. The plan was only to monitor her in her few hours of life, though, not to bring her home-a sacrifice for which one of the scientists later expressed deep regret. Abadzis's tear-inducing and solidly researched graphic novel treatment of Laika's surpassingly tragic story is a standout, not just for its sympathetic point of view but for its refusal to Disnify or anthropomorphize the undeniably cute dog at its heart. The humans around Laika-her protectors and tormentors from the fictionalized early sections, as well as the rocket scientists and her doting handler, Yelena-all try to imprint their own diverse desires on her eager-seeming face. Although the tightly packed and vividly inked panels of Abadzis's art tell an impressively complex tale (buttressed by a helpful bibliography at the end), where the dog becomes a pawn in larger political and bureaucratic schemings, Laika's palpable spirit is what readers will remember. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Told in graphic novel form, this is the fictionalized, multi-layered, and very human story of the dog in Soviet era Sputnik II. The quickly moving story features real scientists of the time, and even shows Nikita Khruschev in a cameo appearance. Involved in the training and preparation for space flight of Laika the dog (also known as Kudryavka, or Curly-tail) is Yelena, the dog trainer. She can talk to her animals and begins to feel more than an official responsibility for Laika and her fate. Abadzis also weaves in the story of the chief designer who was once in a gulag. Another subplot concerns a girl who almost owned Laika. Random turns of fate combine to leave the reader with a deeply moving story that is perfectly showcased in the graphic novel form, with visual and text repetitions bringing memory and fantasy together. By giving the dog a voice, yet stopping short of anthropomorphism, the book makes us question the assumptions underlying Cold War brinksmanship, and the acceptance by the world of propaganda as truth. A bibliography, Internet and video sources, and a very touching quote from Oleg Gazenko, one of the scientists, constitute the back matter. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
Children's Literature
I have not read many animal stories that do not bring tears to my eyes, and this was certainly no exception. Laika, an endearing mutt, was a survivor of the streets until he was caught and taken to the Russian space program. Like many animal stories, other character decisions play an important role in the outcome of the animal, and different points of views are provided to the readers so they can come to their own conclusion as to whether the end justifies the means. This graphic novel is a blend of fact and fiction dealing with Laika, the first animal to ever be sent into space. He was on the Russian Sputnik 2 in November 1957. With this monumental success also came political scheming and the decision that Laika would never be brought home. Laika would die on that trip. Much information is provided to the reader about the space program and how it worked. The author instills in the reader the incredible pressures put on scientists to be first and how politics are behind the pressures. This is a well written book; however, in my opinion, it is not just for casual reading. After reading it, I thought about it for days and was not really able to “pick a side.” This would be an excellent book for classroom discussions. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
Library Journal

Triumph and tragedy comingle for the Russian space program and for Earth's first space traveler, the lovable mutt sent around the world in the Sputnik 2 satellite.-M.C. (LJ1/08)
—Staff

School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up During the Cold War, Russia and the U.S. were entrenched in a battle to be first in space. Laika tells the tale of one special soldier in that battle, the dog who flew in Sputnik II . Former Gulag prisoner Korolev has ascended to the rank of Chief Designer, and, after the successful launch of Sputnik I , he is called upon to send a live creature into space within one month's time. Laika, also known as Kudryavka (curly tail), is a down-and-out stray caught by local officials and sent to the canine lab at the Institute of Aviation Medicine. Higher-ups notice the dog's special ability to withstand g-force, environments without gravity, and the special gel food given to the test subjects. When the time comes to select a dog to go into space, she is the obvious choice. Abadzis's artwork genuinely captures the Cold War atmosphere, while the youth-friendly textual take on the politically dangerous USSR compares favorably to that of Marjane Satrapi's depiction of unstable Iran in Persepolis (Pantheon, 2003). Abadzis provides enough historical content to make Laika a valuable teaching tool, but teachers using the graphic novel with middle schoolers may need to explain some of the subtle nuances of politics in the USSR. Those with a special fondness for dogs may wish to have some tissues handy.-Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA

From the Publisher
* "A luminous masterpiece filled with pathos and poignancy." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Abadzis doesn’t just show Laika’s plight. He makes you feel it in the core of your being. . . . Consider Nick Abadzis a name to watch from here on in." —School Library Journal

* "Abadzis’s tear-inducing and solidly researched graphic novel treatment of Laika’s surpassingly tragic story is a standout, not just for its sympathetic point of view but for its refusal to Disnify or anthropomorphize the undeniably cute dog at its heart. . . . Although the tightly packed and vividly inked panels of Abadzis’s art tell an impressively complex tale . . . where the dog becomes a pawn in larger political and bureaucratic scheming, Laika’s palpable spirit is what readers will remember." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Space enthusiasts will . . . appreciate how much of the drama unfolds not only in dialogue bubbles but in the meticulous visual detail within wordless frames that captures the complex emotional responses of human participants pressured to sacrifice a dog they’ve come to treasure." —BCCB

"Highly recommended for public and school libraries." —Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596431010
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication date: 10/2/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 828,960
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Lexile: GN370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 8.37 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Abadzis is a British comics creator whose work has been published across the globe, from the U.S. to Japan. He based his book on the true story of the Sputnik 2: there was really a dog named Laika, and she touched the stars before she died. In writing his graphic novel, Nick Abadzis did thorough scientific and historical  research, including traveling to Russia, visiting special Sputnik 2 archives, and interviewing experts in the field. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013

    Excellent book! A fine blend of fact and artistic license. The c

    Excellent book! A fine blend of fact and artistic license. The characterizations are moving and will bring tears to your eyes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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