The Stray and the Strangers
Author: Steven Heighton
Illustrator: Melissa Iwai
Ages 4-8, Middle Grade
Kanella is a stray dog who lives on the island of Lesvos in Greece. She’s scrawny, afraid of humans, the other dogs, and even the alley cats from whom she can steal away no food. She ekes out a lonely existence, until she finds a home among the camp workers who have arrived to help refugees from the Middle East embark on the next leg of their perilous journey (this is implied by the description of the refugees, and confirmed in the Author’s Notes).
The camp workers adopt Kanella. They feed and shelter her while the camp hums with a seemingly never ending stream of refugees. No longer the malnourished runt, Kanella has a new purpose – to entertain and shepherd the refugees while they are at the camp.
Kanela strikes up a loving bond with a little boy who shows up and, unlike the other boat people, doesn’t leave. The little boy is separated from his parents and is all alone, just like Kanella.
You’ll have to read the book to see how the stories of both Kanella and the little boy unfold, and I’d encourage you to do so with your young children.
The simple narration of this book from Kanella’s perspective, will draw young readers in. I would say that the language is a little simple for older kids and the subject matter a little heavy for the youngest ones. This is definitely a book I would read WITH my kids so that the subject matter could be expounded on for the older kids and managed for younger (especially sensitive) kids.
Overall, the story as told from a dog’s perspective really drives home the point that compassion and kindness go a long way in life. A lesson we all stand to learn from man’s best friend.
More books for this Age Group can be found here.
My thanks to Groundwood Books for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.
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