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When he isn't traveling the world, writing about Grk, Joshua Doder is a reporter for the Guardian. He lives in London. From the Hardcover edition.
Rich, lonely schoolboy Timothy Malt is determined to return a stray dog to its owners, even when it turns out that they are imprisoned in a foreign country, thousands of miles from his English home. Natascha and Max Raffifi, along with their diplomat parents, have been kidnapped by "Secret Police" from their native Stanislavia, where the democratically elected government has just been overthrown by the villainous Colonel Zinfandel. British author Doder sets a whimsically slapstick tone for the proceedings, through the perspective of an omniscient narrator ("I should tell you about Grk's owners... In order to do that, we must go back in time"). Using his father's credit card, Tim books a flight to Vilnetto for himself and the dog (whom he later learns is named Grk, a Stanislavian word roughly translated as "brave, generous and foolish"). Then, deploying skills he learned playing computer helicopter simulation games, break the Raffifi kids out of prison. The often humorous hyperbole woven into the text is jarringly interrupted by the murder of Ambassador Raffifi and his wife, and a few drop-kicks for adorable Grk (though the dog does extract a measure of revenge by sinking his teeth into several ankles). Aside from the difference in tone, this fast-paced tale may well appeal to Alex Rider fans. A sequel, Grk and the Pelotti Gang, is due in November. Trudie Styler acquired the rights to the Grk trilogy last September for her production company. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-7-Grk, a small white dog with black eyes, finds Tim Malt near Tim's London home, setting into motion a series of fantastic, heroic, often fast-paced and sometimes humorous adventures. Grk belonged to Natascha Raffifi, the daughter of Stanislavia's ambassador to England. When a cruel dictator takes control of this small, mountainous country in Eastern Europe, the Raffifis are arrested and returned to their homeland. Tim's parents will not let him keep the dog, and so he sets out to find its owner. His ingenuity gets him from England to Stanislavia, where he is propelled into action that ultimately reunites Grk with Natascha and her brother, Max, and results in their escape from prison. Some characters are caricatures; many are likable and move the events quickly if implausibly to a satisfying resolution. Max, in particular, is used to insert occasional political commentary that seems to foreshadow his future. By novel's end, the children and Grk settle in with the Malts in London, with the promise of another adventure in which the murder of Max and Natascha's parents will be avenged.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Lightly comic and cinematically adventurous, the plot zips along nicely." --Kirkus Reviews "This first entry in the series crackles with Doder's crisp prose and absurdist sensibility."--Time Out New York Kids