Finding Zasha by Randi BarrowAdolescent Historical Fiction
It's hard to tell if you should read this one first or not. It's a prequel to Saving Zasha, although Zasha also gets saved in this one. Troublesome dog, but worth it.
The story takes place during WWII in Russia. It is a unique perspective of the war as the cities were essentially frozen by the war and the weather--cities left to fend for themselves for the creature comforts of warmth and food as nothing can get past the front lines and nobody is allowed to leave. Ivan,the main character, and his friend are forced to leave Leningrad when his mother is sent to work in a factory. The trip is arduous and dangerous and they arrive to find their new village home is being taken over by Nazis.
The German officer in charge inspects the town with his two German shepherd puppies, killers-in-training to hunt down the enemy. Ivan decides how he can fight the Nazis in his own small way. I loved this aspect of the story-one person making a difference in the world! Ivan wants to train the puppies to NOT kill, but to be just regular dogs.
Personally, I think the hero of the book was the little old lady neighbor. She hides money and food in hollowed out places in her apartment and furniture, shares her last bit of food with her neighbors, and risks her life to take Ivan across the country on an ice road to her sister-in-law's house. That's chutzpah!
Mostly, I found the story to be kind of slow and boring and parts of it a bit cliche.