‘Dog Town,’ by Luīze Pastore, illustrated by Reinis Pētersons, translated by Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini.

I am very excited to see more fantastic stories from around the world being translated into English so that we can enjoy them in this country too. It’s very important to value work from other counties and cultures, as well as our own. That’s why I was so pleased when Firefly Press gave me Dog Town to review.

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This title is by the Latvian prize-winning author Luīze Pastore and is based on the Myth of Riga which asserts that building work in Riga can never be finished because it would then be drowned by the Daugava River which flows through the middle so building work would have to start again.

Every 100 years a water spirit rises to ask if the building work’s completed. If the answer is yes, Riga and all its residents will sink under the water.

Enter Jacob, who lives with his dad but is often alone when he goes out to work. To pass the time Jacob loves nothing better than creating maps of his beloved street.  All he wants is for a tall ship to sail past his window and off down he street. But his wish gets him into big trouble and Jacob is whisked off to stay with his somewhat grumpy cousin, Mimi, and his exotic sea-faring Uncle Eagle.

A chance encounter with, Boss, the leader of the Dog Town pack changes Jacob’s Summer for good. First of all, Boss and the  pack can talk! They need Jacob to help them fight off the wicked Skyler Scraper who is hellbent on covering Maskatchka with towering concrete residencies.

This wonderful story oozes imagination, explores the values of loyalty and teamwork.  I loved reading about Jacob’s vivid fancies of the mind and pictured myself right there beside him on one of his majestic ships, sailing down the street.

The various maps included in the story help give a real sense of Jacob’s perception of his surroundings and the geography of the story. I loved all the quirky details he included that you probably wouldn’t see in a conventional map – a horrible one-eyed comet, untouchable white shirts and a barrel of rainwater!

Myths, maps and talking dogs. What more could you ask for?

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Firefly Press for giving me this title to review*

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