Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow

Just when you thought terrorism couldn't get any worse, disturbing news came out of Iraq last year about another Al Qaeda plot. The terrorist group was reported to have hatched a plan to sew bombs inside of dogs. After the bombs were surgically implanted, the dogs were placed in kennels and delivered to a Bagdad airport. The dogs were supposed to be loaded on a plane destined for the United States. Thankfully the terrorists' plot failed. The plot was exposed when the dogs were found dead in their kennels. They died because the terrorists didn't stitch them up properly.

Using dogs in warfare is not so unusual. Dogs have been at the side of soldiers throughout history. They also have been a source of comfort as well. It seems that Al Qaeda thought they could use our soldiers' love for dogs to their advantage. Take a look at the following preview put out by the Military Channel called "No Dog Left Behind."

In World War 2, dogs were used for many purposes. Some were trained to sniff out the enemy. Some were even strapped with bombs and trained to go under enemy tanks. You know what happened when the bombs exploded.

In the book, Saving Zasha, by Randi Barrow, we find ourselves in Russia at the conclusion of World War 2. The war so devastated this country that it left an indelible scar on both the soul and land of these beleaguered people. Major cities like Leningrad were destroyed. Vast agricultural areas ended up as scorched earth. It is estimated that 20 million people died in Russia alone during World War 2. With so much destruction, even man's best friend was not spared.

Despite the fact that nearly every dog was wiped out by the war, German Shepherds on the loose were still shot in the streets of Leningrad by the Russian people; they so despised the Germans for what they did to their country that they would shoot the dogs on sight. It's possible some Russians thought it was the patriotic thing to do.

In Randi Barrow's fictional story, we are introduced to a boy named Mikhail. He's glad the war is over, but he's disheartened by the fact that his father hasn't returned home from the war. Mikhail clings to the belief that his father will come back, even if the rest of his family doesn't hold out much hope.

One day, Mikhail and his brother discover someone in the woods near their farm. The man isn't their father. The man doesn't appear to be a soldier either, but he's wounded and near death. But what really shocks the boys is the man's traveling companion. The stranger has the most beautiful German Shepherd the boys have ever seen. When the man later dies of his wounds, Mikhail and his family have a decision to make about a German Shepherd named Zasha. Will the family do the patriotic thing and turn Zasha into the authorities? But, if they do, Zasha will certainly be shot on sight. Shouldn't they save a beautiful creature that somehow had survived such a horrible war? What will happen to Mikhail and his family if they can't keep Zasha a secret from their neighbors?

Find out in, Saving Zasha, by Randi Barrow.

Listen to an excerpt - click here.
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