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enchanting adventure for dog-lovers
on 6 May 2005
Anyone whose child is just a bit too young for Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, or who is looking for another spy story should buy this. It is really funny, well-written and gripping, with an awareness of evil that makes the jokes sharper.
Tim is a lonely latch-key boy whose parents are too busy getting rich to play with him or allow him a pet or a sibling. Consequently, he spends all his free time playing computer games. One day, he finds a small black-and white dog, Grk, which escaped when his owners the Stanlislavian ambassador's family, got arrested by henchmen of the vile dictator, Colonel Zinfandel. Despite punishments and admonitions, Tim not only feed the forlorn Grk but becomes determined to return him to his rightful owners - even though they are thousands of miles away, imprisoned for life as traitors in a grim high-security prison.
How Tim manages this is related with great charm and wit. Like Eric Linklater's classic, The Wind on the Moon, it simmers with anger at the way bullies torture and hurt the innocent. Max and Natascha's parents are murdered, and although the three children and Grk escape to safety this is a bold stroke which succeeds even if you never quite believe a child could fly a helicopter after playing a computer simulation game. Perfect for 7-10 year olds, although you'd probably best avoid it if they want a dog, because Grk is so thoroughly adorable.