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The Dogs of Winter

The Dogs of Winter

4.5 12
by Bobbie Pyron

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When Mishka is abandoned on the streets of Moscow he falls in with a gang of other homeless children, hoping they’ll give him a chance of survival. But as winter freezes the city and food becomes scarce, he is left alone, to fend for himself.

Help comes in an unexpected form: Mishka is adopted by a pack of dogs. The creatures quickly become more than


When Mishka is abandoned on the streets of Moscow he falls in with a gang of other homeless children, hoping they’ll give him a chance of survival. But as winter freezes the city and food becomes scarce, he is left alone, to fend for himself.

Help comes in an unexpected form: Mishka is adopted by a pack of dogs. The creatures quickly become more than just his street companions, they are his family. But he can’t stay hidden from the world for ever . . .

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jeanine Fox
Ivan Andreovich is just five years old when he and his mother become victims in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. One morning, he awakes to discover his mother has disappeared. He struggles to understand what has happened when the man takes him, by train, from his village in Russia. Ivan bolts away when he realizes at journey’s end that the man intends to leave him in an orphanage. His home and loving mother are replaced by a life on the streets; first, with a rag tag group of children and teens, and then with a pack of feral dogs. Caring for the dogs motivates Ivan not to give in to thievery to survive. Lines blur as to who is taking care of whom in this boy-and-dog tale. Pyron’s fictional story is based on the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a child who, from the age of four, survived two years of living on the streets, including Russia’s harsh winters, among a pack of dogs. This book fits the bill for readers who enjoy survivalist stories and/or love dogs. The story is told in two parts, made up of thirty-five short chapters. This style may appeal to reluctant readers, but they may also become frustrated with the author’s prolonged narrative. Perhaps the author intends for the reader to experience Ivan’s feelings of hopelessness and desperation by joining him in his two- to three-year odyssey over 303 pages. Ivan Mishukov’s story is fascinating, but the news articles noted by the author leave most of his story a mystery--Pyron has filled in the blanks for the reader. Ages 11 to 14.
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—A relentless darkness underlies this riveting story of courage and determination. Told as a recollection of a five-year-old boy in Russia, the story follows Mishka Ivan Andreovich from his relatively comfortable and loving home with his mother and grandmother to the lonely and frightening life on the streets of Moscow in post-Soviet Russia. The early chapters offer a dramatic counterpoint to the tragedy following his grandmother's death and the destruction of his mother's spirits and will to go on. When she disappears, Ivan is left with her abusive lover, who mistreats him and eventually takes him to an orphanage. Ivan escapes, and the rest of the book focuses on his brutal, frightening, unpredictable life on the streets. His astonishing resilience grows from his determination to find his mother and stay out of an orphanage. He finds refuge of a sort with a small but wise group of children living in sewers and underground stations and then breaks away to survive with a band of wandering dogs. It becomes his family, and he and the dogs protect one another. His gentle, timid nature erodes as he develops street smarts, cunning, and unwavering bravery. This is a captivating, important story based on the life of Ivan Mishukov, a Russian boy who lived a similar adventure. The author's note and extensive bibliography offer further insight into the underlying problems faced by Ivan and other children in Russia and around the world. Eva Hornung's Dog Boy (Viking, 2010) was also inspired by Mishukov's early life.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Publishers Weekly
As she did in A Dog’s Way Home (2011), Pyron delivers a reflective, hard-hitting story about the bond between child and dog—in this case, seven of them. Inspired by the real-life story of a boy who survived on the streets of Moscow in the mid-1990s, the novel exposes the plight of many homeless, orphaned Russian children after the fall of the Soviet Union. Mishka—abandoned at age five by an abusive man who lived with (and presumably killed) Mishka’s mother—befriends a pack of bedraggled wild dogs; together, they beg and forage for food, sleep in metro stations, ride trains to stay warm, and avoid military personnel intent on capturing them. The book’s emotional impact is immense; Mishka grapples with his identity as his memories of his mother gradually fade and he becomes increasingly feral. Though some scenes of Mishka and the dogs’ trials can be a bit repetitive, their sameness underscores their unremitting and often heartbreaking battle to survive, day after day. Ages 10–14. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Oct.)
From the Publisher


A KIRKUS REVIEWS Best Children's Book of 2012

*"Compelling and highly original fiction... An absorbing account." -- BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS, starred review

*"Terrifying, life-affirming and memorable." -- KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review

*"Absorbing... The many vivid details of street life and the convincing portrayals of even minor characters help bring the story to life. A source bibliography is appended. Written with compassion as well as grim, sometimes brutal realism, this novel offers a riveting story as well as material for reflection and discussion." -- BOOKLIST, starred review

"Well-crafted sentences, lively dialogue, and a remarkable story line combine for an absorbing adventure tale that young readers will find irresistible." -- HORN BOOK

"Pyron delivers a reflective, hard-hitting story about the bond between child and dog.... The book's emotional impact is immense." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Kirkus Reviews
An orphaned boy in Russia survives as a member of a pack of dogs. Ivan is only 4 years old when he runs away to the streets of Moscow. At first, he is taken in by a scruffy group of children under one adult's control. They live in the subway stations, begging and stealing food. He soon befriends and is adopted by a small group of dogs and becomes one of them. They survive on the trains in the winter and in the forest during the summer. Ivan keeps a button belonging to his (probably dead) mother as a talisman and remembers the fairy tales she read to him. Increasingly, his time with the dogs provides nourishment for both his hungry belly and his soul. Threats are ever present in the form of police, gangs of teens and wild animals in the forest. Two years later he is captured, and after months of care, he regains his humanness. Pyron has based her story on magazine articles about a Russian feral child, one of hundreds of thousands whose lives were disrupted by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. She presents Ivan's story as a first-person narrative in beautifully composed writing enhanced by Ivan's visual acuity and depth of emotion. Terrifying, life-affirming and memorable. (author's note, bibliography) (Adventure. 10-14)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
Sales rank:
HL610L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Bobbie Pyron is the author of A DOG'S WAY HOME, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was named to the Spring 2011 Indie Next List. She works as a librarian in Park City, Utah.

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The Dogs of Winter 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is really a good book but really sad parts
YoungMensanBookParade More than 1 year ago
If you like historical fiction or dogs, this book is for you. The book is historical fiction, telling the story of an orphaned Russian boy who lives with a pack of dogs. After his mother is killed, her boyfriend throws him out to the streets. A group of orphans take him in, and he gets a dog to beg with. He leaves them and discovers his dog’s, named Lucky, family. You might like this if you like historical fiction books, or dogs. My favorite parts were the ending and the time within the forest, but the time with the other orphans was fairly dull. The book takes the authors’ twist on the mystery of what happened to Ivan, the main character. I do agree that a kind ending would be nice, but the way it turns out seemed to end well, despite mysteries that will most likely never be answered. Overall the book is extremely emotional, and will be a good read, but the book has some very dull parts, especially in the beginning. Review by Young Mensan Charles M., age 10, Richmond Area Mensa
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
When I began reading this book, I will be honest. Based on the picture, I kind of expected a Jack London type story. I soon realized just how wrong I was. How on earth was I to know that I would be reading historical fiction (recent history, but still history) that featured an amazing story that was emotional and realistic? In fact, the author's note at the end of the story, this story contains more truth than fiction. The book is written in first person, and I think this is a perfect story for young adults and older adults alike. It will introduce you to a recent period of history of which you may not have been aware. The tenacity of the dogs and the boy will enthrall you. Does it end happily? You know, I will leave that up to you to decide. I will say this much--it is a realistic ending. There are a few brutal portions of this book, but there are no details that would offend anyone. There are no bedroom scenes, and the profanity is extremely mild. I cannot think of anything that was offensive in this story, and it was a very readable book. There were no boring portions of the story, and I believe that the author captured the emotions of the characters perfectly. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future. I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! I absulotly love this book. l am 10 years old, and l have read it ten times. It's amazing how much thot the auther put into!!!!! :))))))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dogs of Winter may be a good book, but there is no warning for parents about the more graphic aspects of this story. After reading A Dogs Way Home our 9 year old was thrilled to find another "dog" story by the same author. This is definitely better suited for 12-14 year olds.
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
Bobbie Pyron has taken a bit of history and turned it into a captivating tale of a little boy's survival. Never could I have imagined a child's bond with wild dogs as seen in The Dogs of Winter! Ivan Andreovich is only five years old when his mother goes missing and her boyfriend tries to take Ivan to an orphanage. In the City, somewhere in Russia, Ivan decides to run away, hoping that his mother will come searching for him. He spends days and nights on the streets and train station, at first taken in by a rowdy group of young children who steal food and beg money for vodka and cigarettes. In the midst of these kids who will do anything to survive, Ivan tries to hold on to the morals his mother taught him like to not steal or lie. When the dogs come into Ivan's life it gets a little easier to make it. He finds food for them and himself, warm places to sleep at night, and protection from the older street kids and gangs. But, of course, obstacles take place that hinder Ivan's ability to keep himself fed and clothed. He's very naive throughout most of the story, but the more wild he gets the more cunning. Throughout the novel, Pyron makes me wonder whether anything will go right for the Dog Boy, but time and time again his pack proves that they have his back and they'll endure through the most dire situations. Except for when Ivan is captured and forced back into human society. I found that I didn't feel the big emotional pull until Ivan had been shown just one ounce of kindness from someone who wasn't one of his dogs. The Dogs of Winter is a novel that I would highly recommend to dog lovers and readers who love an encouraging tale of survival. Even through the darkest parts of the novel, when life just wasn't kind to little Ivan, the dogs lightened the pall. *Book provided in exchange for an honest review*
ACS_Book_Blogger More than 1 year ago
Based on a true story, "The Dogs of Winter" is targeted for 6th grade readers and older. Ivan is a 5-year old boy who has been abandoned on the streets of Russia. He encounters gangs of children who have been abandoned and they try to draw him to work for them. These gangs often are cruel and mistreat each other, as well as Ivan. Eventually Ivan ends up on his own and discovers a pack of dogs who help take care of him. The dogs become his family and Ivan even begins to look and act like his family. They travel the city during the winter looking for food and shelter and move to the country during the warmer months and live in the woods near a fairground. The bond that develops between boy and dog is strong. They protect, defend, and provide for each other. When I first started reading this book, I thought it was entirely fiction. I did not realize that it was based on a true story. I was over a fourth of the way through the book when I discovered this simple fact. I enjoyed this story, found it very easy to read and actually read it in one day. While this story focuses on one young boy who is homeless, it does a good job of raising our awareness that there are homeless children all over the world, even here in our own small spot in the United States. It does this without being overbearing. The Dogs of Winter is a simple story about a boy and his dogs, but it is a wonderful story about a boy and his dogs! (rev. P.Howard) DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was given to us in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Conciderabley the best book ever!
Huskies101 More than 1 year ago
I chose this book because I thought it would be about dogs. I thought it was a sad story because at first,Little Ivan  loses his mother, and then is forced to go to a orphanage. Then he finds a pack of dogs in the city, and comes to be his family. He also has challenges he’s facing in the wild. This book is not what I thought it would be because I did not know what challenges and bad things could happen to the boy named Ivan, and his family of dogs. I do not feel the same about the book because I did not know that the boy would lose his mother, and his family would be a pack of dogs.  The main characters in the story are Ivan, and his dogs Lucky, Rip, Smoke, Grandmother, Little Mother, Moon, and Star. The setting of the story is the city, the woods, barn, and glass house. The story is about a boy named Ivan and a pack of dogs who face many challenges in the wild. The type of book is historical fiction. The author of this book is Bobby Pyron. I liked the book because it was very interesting. I also liked it because the book is full of adventures. I feel really good about this book because I really liked how it is full of adventure, and how it tells a story about Ivan and his dogs. I would recommend this book because it is full of adventures, and can catch your interest. I would consider this a sixth-grade level book.  This book is about this boy named Ivan, and these dogs named Lucky, Smoke, Rip, Grandmother, Little Mother, Moon, and Star. Ivan loses his mother, then finds this pack of dogs. Ivan and the dogs are facing many challenges in the wild. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a little boy whose mother dies and is left out on the streets one day he becomes friends with some dogs... This is a very moving book. (I cried quiet a bit.) I really liked this book. I would get it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago