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A Dog Called Grk: A GRK Book    by Joshua Doder order for
Dog Called Grk
by Joshua Doder
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Twelve-year old Timothy Malt has a pretty ordinary life involving school, parents overly absorbed in their occupations, and his love of computer games, especially those involving helicopters. It's a pretty breezy lifestyle until one day a stray dog follows him home and Tim's world is changed forever.

The dog called Grk darts right past the door and into the Malts' house. Tim's parents will be home soon from work and Mom has an allergy, so Tim scurries to eject the dog. But the small, determined, white and black-eyed canine remains in the Malts' yard. Grk is no ordinary dog. He belongs to Natascha Raffifi, the daughter of Stanislavia's ambassador to England, who was a favored candidate to become his country's next president. In the middle of night, leaving his unsuspecting parents a note, Tim sets off from England by plane to find and return Grk to his owners. In Stanislavia, Tim is pulled into chaotic political events (note that the author treats his political discourse satirically).

In Eastern Europe, Natascha Raffifi and her brother Max wait in a prison cell, separated from their parents, who are in another high-security facility. The small, mountainous country was taken over by a cruel despot, Colonel Zinfandel. The country's citizens were told: 'Last night, President Joseph Djinko was arrested. Under questioning, he confessed to forty-seven charges of corruption. Colonel Zinfandel, the Commander-in-Chief of the army and air force of Stanislavia, has assumed control of the country.' All Stanislavian ambassadors were recalled to their homeland. The Raffifis were arrested in the Kensington embassy by sinister, bitter Corporal Danko Pinot, whose main service for years in the Stanislavian army entailed standing in front of the Embassy gates.

Based on solid experience with helicopter-simulation computer games, Tim ingeniously confiscates a Stanislavian helicopter to rescue the Raffifis. When the helicopter rises into the sky, all seems fine until he notices a man hanging from one of the wheels. The adventure offers genial characters and storyline, sprinkled with humor in a sappy spoof that's yet spicy enough to set readers rooting for Tim, Grk, Natascha, and Max. The fast-paced entertainment is injected with improbabilities and surprising splashes of violence, bringing home messages about life via the hero and his temporarily-adopted dog.

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