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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Luize Pastore
Age Range: 9-11
Jacob Bird is lonely. He lives in the city of Riga with his dad who often works long hours. Children are not supposed to be left on their own but Jacob is often home alone. He dreams of a tall ship sailing past his window and is fascinated by town planning maps and the local legend that claims the city will be flooded if anyone says ‘Riga is ready’. When one day he utters the fateful words, his wish gets him into big trouble because his dad takes him to stay with his Uncle Eagle and grumpy cousin Mimi on the other side of the city in the run-down district of Maskatchaka.
Uncle Eagle and Mimi lead a somewhat unconventional life and although Jacob misses his dad terribly he finds himself curious about his new surroundings. As he begins to explore Maskatchaka he encounters the local Dog Town pack of talking dogs led by the Boss and hears of the dastardly plans of property developer Skyler Scraper’s to transform the neighbourhood into a concrete jungle. Jacob knows he must do something to help and his maps may be the only thing that can save the district from destruction.
Dog Town by Latvian author Luīze Pastore is a gem of a book: based on a local legend from Riga, it is a witty and heart-warming story touching on loneliness, friendship and the importance of community and preserving neighbourhoods. The amusing black and while illustrations by Reinis Pētersons add to its charm together with an excellent translation from Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini. Dog Town won the Annual Latvian Literature Prize for The Best Children’s Book 2014.