Monday, January 14, 2013

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic



Written and Illustrated by Monica Carnesi
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books in 2012

ISBN 978-0-399-25666-0

Book Review

Something is moving in the water! What is it?” It is a dog - a dog adrift on rapidly moving ice floes along Poland’s Vistual River. Children are the first to spot Dog and they call firemen who brave the frigid waters in a rescue attempt. But the current is moving too quickly and soon Dog floats out into the open Baltic Sea. Two days after first being spotted, Dog is rescued by the crew of the research vessel R/V Baltica. With text spare, yet precise enough to support a beginning reader, Monica Carnesi’s debut picture book relays this compelling rescue story with both drama and charm. At the tense moment of almost-rescue, Carnesi’s text anxiously reads, “But dog slips. / He falls into the water./ Oh no! Where is Dog?,” A pair of illustrations that depict dog’s terror are followed by an image of the now empty ice floe; however, careful viewers will be reassured by dog’s tiny paws clinging to the edge of the ice. Phew…. Varying perspectives in the watercolor, pen, and ink illustrations add visual interest throughout this edge of your seat story of rescue at sea. A map on the endpapers provides perspective on the more than 75 mile harrowing journey undertaken by this appealing pup. Inspired by true events in 2010, this heart warming story will leave you with new appreciation for the phrase “all’s well that ends well.”

All Ages

Teaching Ideas: Invitations for Your Classroom

More About Baltic. The links below in Further Explanations will provide you and your students with additional information about Baltic, his journey down the Vistula River and his subsequent adoption by the crew of the R/V Baltica. After reading the book aloud and prior to exploring these resources, you might choose to have your students generate a list of questions about the events. Then, explore the resources to see how many of their questions are answered. One question that remains unanswered: how this dog became stranded on the ice floe? Invite your students to speculate on this question.

How Far did Baltic Travel? Using the map on the endpapers, help students to gain an understanding of how far and for how long Baltic traveled on the ice flow. You could ask students to locate on the map a geographic area that is 75 miles away from your school. You could also estimate the rate at which the ice floe was traveling – this will be an extremely rough estimate.

Animals Who Live on Ice. While Dog’s life was threatened by his circumstances, some animals are uniquely adapted for life among ice and ice floes. Use the titles listed under Further Explorations below to learn about these animals and their structural characteristics and habits that allow them to live in this uniquely challenging environment. You may also want to research dogs who live in arctic environments and their relationships with people who live in these areas.

Rescuing Dogs. While Baltic’s need to be rescued is dramatic and obvious, there are dogs in all of our communities who experience difficult circumstances. Invite your class to learn more about the responsibilities of pet ownership. Arrange physical or skype visits from someone who works at an animal shelter worker and from someone who has adopted a pet. Learn more about the work of breed Rescue organizations. You may want to read Maggie’s Second Chance, The Blue House Dog, The Stray Dog, and A Home for Dixie to extend this discussion (see Further Explorations below for full bibliographic information).

Unique Dogs. Assemble a text set of books featuring dogs with unique stories or special talents, including, for example, titles such as Owney, The Mail Pouch Pooch, Jake the Philharmonic Dog, and Calico Dorsey: Mail Dog of the Mining Camps.  Compare the attributes and accomplishments of these dogs by creating a comparison chart. 

Creating Drama in Writing: Rescue Stories. Read Little Dog Lost along with other stories that feature dramatic rescues. (see Further Explorations below for some suggestions). How do authors use language and illustrators use images to convey the tension and emotion associated with a rescue? Ask students to create lists of words and phrases that create a sense of drama. How do illustrators create tension in images? How do they use perspective to dramatize events? After careful study of many examples, ask your students to try writing a ‘rescue’ story, either fictional or based on real events.

Principles of Illustration. What makes a picture work? After reading Molly Bang’s book Picture This (see below) either with your class or to build your own knowledge, explore some of the principles of illustration with your class. As a class, model the application of these principles by dissecting the illustrations in Little Dog, Lost. Ideally, you would examine the illustrations using a document camera to project the images. How did Carnesi create emotional impact through the use of color, line, page breaks, and perspective? Gather a collection of Caldecott Winning books (such as Mark Simont’s The Stray Dog and Chris Raschka’s A Ball for Daisy) How do the other illustrators also use some of Bang’s techniques, but to achieve illustrations with a very different mood and tone?

Critical Literacy

Comparing Newspaper Versions of the Rescue. In the Further Explorations section below you will find several different news sources reporting on Baltic’s rescue. Ask students to compare these news reports. How do these authors relay the story of Baltic’s rescue. Are there details that appear in all the stories? How are the stories different from one another? What do students notice about word choice, structure, and organization across these news stories? Consider also the fact that this event became global news. Why? And how? How does news travel across the globe?

Further Explorations

Monica Carnesi’s Website

Monica Carnesi’s Blog: Getting to Know Baltic

YouTube: Dog on the Ice Float

Los Angeles Times: Polish research ship's crew adopts dog rescued from Baltic Sea ice floe

BBC: Lucky Rescue for Dog Stranded on Ice Floe

ITN News: Rescued Pooch Becomes Sea Dog

Associated Press Archive: Poland Dog


 Books

Bang, M. (2000). Picture this: How pictures work. New York: SeaStar Books.

Blumenthal, D. (2010). The blue house dog. Ill. by A. Gustavson. Atlanta: Peachtree.

Furstinger, N. (2011). Maggie’s second chance: a gentle dog’s rescue. Ill by J. Hyatt. Edina, MN: Gryphon Press.

Goodman, Susan E. (2006). Life on the ice. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press.

Hodge, D. (2008). Polar animals. Ill. by P. Stephens. Toronto: Kids Can Press.

Jackson, E. (2008). A home for Dixie: The true story of a rescued puppy. Photos by B. Carey. New York: Collins.

Kerby, M. (2008). Owney, The mail pouch pooch. Ill. by L. Barasch. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

LeFrak, K. (2006). Jake the Philharmonic dog. Ill. by M. Baranski. New York: Walker & Co.

Lendroth, S. (2010). Calico Dorsey: Mail dog of the mining camps. Ill. by S. Lendroth. Berkeley: Tricycle Press.

Markle, S. (2012). Waiting for ice. Ill. by A. Marks. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge.

Markle, S. (2009). Animal heroes: True rescue stories. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press.

Martin, J.B. (2001). The lamp, the ice, and a boat called fish: Based on a true story. Ill. by B. Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Riddles, L. (2002). Storm run: The story of the first woman to win the Iditarod sled dog race. Ill by S. Cartwright. Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books.

Simont, M. (2001). The stray dog. New York: Harper Collins

Turner, P.S. (2004). Hachiko: The true story of a loyal dog. Ill. by Y. Nascimbene. Boston: Houghton Miffilin.

Winter, J. (2006). Mama: A true story in which a baby hippo loses his mama during the tsunami, but finds a new home and a new mama. Orlando, FL: Harcourt. 

Wood, T. (1996). Dusty and his sled dogs compete in Alaska’s Jr. Iditarod. New York: Walker. 

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