This Valentine’s Day, because my husband needed to be away, my dog was my date. That evening she and I took a walk, had dinner and lounged on the couch together. I read while she dozed and snored. In other words, we had a perfect evening. This made me think that in this month of love, I’d like to honor our canine friends who devote themselves to us so unconditionally.
Below are several YA novels (and one adult novel well-suited to teens), some in print and some in graphic format, in which canines play a large part. They may be the main character’s best friend or arch enemy, or even the story’s protagonist. I’ve taken the liberty of including a few books with wolves. I’m hoping you’ll agree that the probable common ancestry of wolves and dogs — and also just the fact that these “wolf” novels are pretty great — justifies the inclusion of these works.
Make sure to also check out earlier Hub posts about dogs and other animals in YA literature. See Laura Perenic’s “Dog Days of Summer…Reading” (8/7/12) and Kate McNair’s “Animals Who Shine” (9/14/12).
Laika by Nick Abadzis (2008 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens)
This is a fictionalized account of Laika, the Samoyed-husky who in November 1957 became the first sentient being to leave Earth’s orbit, on the Sputnik II satellite. A dog who had survived on the streets of Russia, she was taken by scientists in order to further their space program, her life knowingly sacrificed. This is a powerful and poignant graphic novel which shows how politics can generate intense pressure on scientists to be first in their field. (younger teen graphic novel)
BB Wolf and the Three LPs by J. D. Arnold & Rich Koslowski (2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)
This graphic novel turns the story of The Three Little Pigs on its head. In this version, BB Wolf is a farmer and blues musician in the Mississippi Delta in the 1920s. When the pigs decide that they’re going to take his land, BB Wolf strikes back in revenge. There are parallels here to Jim Crow racial segregation and oppression and also to the life of the real Barnabus Benjamin Wolf, who influenced American Blues music and was executed for murder. (older teen graphic novel) Continue reading For the Love of Dogs (and a Few Wolves): Canines in YA Literature