Barrow, Randi. Saving Zasha.
3Q * 3P * M Barrow, Randi. Saving Zasha. Scholastic, 2011. 240p. $16.99. 978-0-545-20632-7.
Mikhail is a young Russian boy living in the aftermath of World War II. His soldier father has been missing since the end of the war, food and resources are limited, and there is still a large amount of fear and distrust. The Russians are so angry at Germany that they have outlawed owning a German-breed dog and have executed any they find. When Mikhail discovers a dying man in the woods with a German shepherd, he understands the dangerous risk of adopting the dog but decides to do it anyway. He and his family must keep Zasha a secret from the government, dog thieves, and even their own neighbors, but that proves hard to do with a young nosy girl asking too many questions.
There are many books about kids dealing with war and its ramifications, but this book is unique in its focus on dogs. An afterword describes the real development of the black Russian terrier as a response to the decimated dog population in Russia after the war. Unlike most dog books, Saving Zasha has a happy ending, with all loose ends tied up nicely. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking or remarkable about the writing, but it will be popular with dog lovers as well as students who need to satisfy historical fiction requirements but do not like to read traditional historical fiction.
3Q Readable, without serious defects.
3P Will appeal with pushing.
M Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).