Throwback Thursday: Dog Boy by Eva Hurnung

throwbackthursday

Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renée at It’s Book Talk to share old favourite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

This week I have chosen one that I read in 2010 and still plays on my mind even now:

9270148Dog Boy by Eva Hornung:

As soon as I saw this book sitting on a shelf in Waterstones years ago I made a bee line straight for it. I am such a huge animal lover and I am a sucker for books with animals on the cover, in the title or narrated by them. Wolf Totem, Animal Farm, Black Beauty and Life of Pi all feature in my list of favourite books of all time.

Dog Boy is narrated by Ramochka, a four-year-old boy who lives with his mother and his latest “uncle” in a high-rise apartment block in Moscow. After several days of his mum not returning, seeing Uncle moving out all the furniture, and being left to fend for himself in freezing conditions and with no food, he finally ventures outside. Cold and hungry, Ramochka follows a large sandy coloured dog back to her lair. The dog becomes the only source of food, warmth and comfort that Ramochka has available to him and he begins to see the dog as his Mamochka. The puppies that Mamochka is already nursing become his siblings and they accept him into their fold immediately and unquestioningly. The two older siblings, however, take more convincing but eventually, Ramochka becomes a permanent and invaluable member of their little family, all living together in the basement of a derelict church in the harshest of conditions. The longer the new family is together, the more Ramochka begins to forget his old life, and before long he is eating rats and other fresh kills that any one of the pack manages to bring home.

What I loved about this book was the real love and strength of the bond between human and animal. It was amazing to see how the pack of stray dogs view the world, through the eyes of a small boy. The story is alternately shocking, pitiful, heartbreaking, tender, joyful and fascinating. I fell in love, smiled, cried and hoped. To live with this group of animals for a few days was a privilege and one I won’t forget easily.

Verdict:

A highly recommended read. It will lift you up and tear you down but it is truly a wonderful, captivating, must-read.

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Day 29 – A favourite book with animals in it

Oh but they do talk, James….

This is THEEEE most difficult challenge day yet.  I am a huge animal-lover and I have a real soft spot for books with them, about them or narrated by them. Funnily enough, if a book is supposed to be narrated by a child, unless it is really well done – e.g. ROOM – then they generally make me cringe. However, a book narrated by a dog……well! That’s differnt. It cvan be heartwarming or pure comedy gold.

After umming and ahhhing for ages which book to pick (I don’t want to offend said animals who didn’t quite make it, you see) I have decided to include twelve books today. Yes, TWELVE!

So, in no particular order:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I read it in one evening and even skipped dinner for this book. I cried my way through half of it and I still think about those animals now. Boxer broke my heart (if you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean :().

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

This book is actually called Lorelei’s Secret in the UK, but I bought it when I was in NYC on a long weekend about 6 or 7 years ago and read it on the flight home. A man’s wife dies by falling out of an apple tree and the only witness is the couple’s dog, Lorelei, so he tries to teach her to speak to that she can tell him what happened. Loved it.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

You all know what I think about this book. I fell in love with Richard Parker the bengal tiger. Still love him now.

Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong

My all-time favourite book, and not just because there are animals in it but it’s all the better for them being there. Wolves, horses, foxes, they’re all in there. And if the baby wolf cub doesn’t break your heart, I think it’s possible you may not be human. Sigh.

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Yes, the rather sexy R-Patz stars in the recent movie (always a bonus) but before even he came along, I fell in love with Rosie the elephant and Queenie the dog in this book. Superb book.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Read this on a plane to Norway one Christmas and it melted my heart. A little girl, Patsy, lives on a trailer site near a little town in Alabama and becomes befriended by some of the residents. She makes friend with a redbird called Jack who becomes her bestfriend. Truly heartwarming.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

I didn’t read this book as a child. In fact I read it for the first time two years ago. Black Beauty is a lovley natured horse who has a great life but his owners are forced to sell him and he starts a life of hardship and cruelty. But even among this there are kind, gentle people who want to help him and of course he makes lots of horsey friends. Lovely.

Dog Boy by Eva Hornung

I just loved this book and can’t understand why it’s not better known. In freezing, communist Moscow and 4 year old Ramochka is fending for himself on the streets when he follows a stray dog to its den and becomes one of their pack. This book is all about the bond between human and animal and it affected me so profoundly that I bawled my eyes out. Fantastic book.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Enzo is the most loyal and lovable dog in the world and he tells us the story of his family through his eyes. Cry much?

Homeless Rats by Ahmed Fagih

I will be reviewing this book tommorow so keep a look out for it.

If Only They Could Talk by Jame Herriott

And finally, if I absolutely HAD to pick one then the prize would go to the James Herriot series. I have only read the first two out of my boxset and I love knowing that I have all the rest to come. James Herriot is a vet in the Yorkshire Dales and his books are laugh-out-loud funny. James tried to fit into the town of hardened Yorkshire farmers and animals with minds of their own. My fabourite characters were Mrs Pumphrey and her dog Tricki Woo had me bent over double, crying with laughter!

  Do you like books with animals? Which other ones can you recommend to me?

My favourite books of 2010

 

This was so difficult to narrow down – SOOOOO difficult! But narrow it down I have and here are the top 10 books I read in 2010:

 

East Lynne by Ellen Wood

“For about three weeks I felt like I was living in the middle of a Victorian soap-opera. There was murder, betrayal, divorce, disguises and death and all this set among a backdrop of stately homes and horse-and-carriages. What’s not to love?”

 

 

Corrag by Susan Fletcher

“It is truly one of the most beautiful and lyrical books I have ever read.”

 

 

Dog Boy by Eva Hornung

“The story is alternately shocking, pitiful, heartbreaking, tender, joyful and fascinating. I fell in love, smiled, cried and hoped. To live with this group of animals for a few days was a privelidge and one I won’t forget easily.”

 

 

Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

“Although this book is only 330 pages long, it felt like an epic to me. I have spent 60 years with this family, watching them love, loose, fight, cry. I’m going to miss them. I cried at the end – not just because of their story but because of all the other thousands of peoples story – real people.”

 

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

“This book has it all: class conflict, politics, religion, women’s rights and passion! It makes you think, it makes you reflect on what was and it makes you ponder how we got from there to where we are now. We smile with them, we cry with them.”

 

The Likeness by Tana French

“I just loved this book, I found that I couldn’t and put it down, nor did I want to. Despite the size of the book, I never once felt like it was too long; on the contrary I could have gone on reading for several hundred more.”

 

 

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

“The whole book, for me, pacey and gritty and just not wanting to put the damn thing down. If you enjoy crime / thrillers / whodunnits then you will LOVE this!”

 

 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

“I feel like I have lost friends now I have finished this book.”

 

 

 

Room by Emma Donoghue

“Room is both brilliantly written but also gripping: it took hold of me from the first page and never let me go until the end.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crossing Places  & The Janus Stone  by Elly Griffiths

“So what do you do when you’re busy, busy, busy and you’re brain is crying out for a book that will allow you to slip inbetween the pages from one life into another with complete ease?”

(OK, so I’m cheating here but I had to include them both as I read the first two books in a new series this year and fell in love with it – roll on the next books!)

 

Have you read any of these? What do you think to my 2010 favourites?

 

  

 

Book Review: Dog Boy by Eva Hornung

The Blurb:

“Four-year-old Romochka is left alone in a dark, empty Moscow apartment. After a few days, hunger drives him outside, where he sees a large, yellow dog loping past and follows her to her lair on the outskirts of the city. During the seasons that follow, Romochka changes from a boy into something far wilder. He learns to see in the dark, attack enemies with tooth and claw, and understand the strict pack code. But when he begins to hunt in the city, the world of human beings, it is only a matter of time before the authorities take an interest.”

 

(source: Amazon.com)

 

What I thought:

As soon as I saw this book sitting on a shelf in Waterstones I made a bee line straight for it. I am such a huge animal lover and I am a sucker for books with animals on the cover, in the title or narrated by them. Wolf Totem, Animal Farm, Black Beauty and Life of Pi all feature in my list of favourite books of all time.

Dog Boy is narrated by Ramochka, a four year old boy who lives with his mother and his latest “unlce” in a high-rise appartment block in Moscow. After several days of his mum not returning, seeing Unlce moving out all the furniture, and being left to fend for himself in freeing conditions and with no food, he finally ventures outside. Cold and hungry, Ramochka follows a large sandy coloured dog back to her lair. The dog becomes the only source of food,warmth and comfort that Ramochka has available to him and he begins to see the dog as his Mamochka. The puppies that Mamochka is already nursing become his siblings and they accept him into their fold immediately and unquestioningly. The two older siblings, however, take more convincing but eventually Ramochka becomes a permanent and invaluable member of their little family, all living together in the basement of a derilict church in the harshest of conditions. The longer the new family are together, the more Ramochka begins to forget his old life, and before long he is eating rats and other fresh kill that any one of the pack manage to bring home.

What I loved about this book was the real love and strength of the bond between human and animal. It was amazing to see how the pack of stray dogs veiw the world, through the eyes of a small boy. The story is alternately shocking, pitiful, heartbreaking, tender, joyful and fascinating. I fell in love, smiled, cried and hoped. To live with this group of animals for a few days was a privelidge and one I won’t forget easily.

A highly recommended read. This is firmly in the top few books I have read so far in 2010. Wondeful, captivating, a must-read.