The Dogs of Winter
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The Dogs of Winter

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  372 ratings  ·  112 reviews
A small boy, a cruel city, and the incredible dogs who save him.

Based on a true story!

When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form: Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs, and the dogs quickly become more than just his street companions: They become his family...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Community Reviews

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Jack Swanson
I've been in the cold before, but author Bobby Pyron showed me that I had never been in the cold of Russia, like Mishka in The Dogs of Winter. This book starts out when Mishka is only five years old and progresses from there, as he grows older he learns new ways to survive as he lives on the streets. Mishka used to live a very normal life, with his grandmother and mother, however it is all turned upside down when eventually his babushka, or grandmother dies. His mother has no one to talk to, and...more
MissStan
A very emotional read, particularly for animal lovers. I found I had to read this in short bursts as I was constantly on edge worrying about what would happen to the dogs (and the boy). It is based on a true story set in Moscow in the 90s, and is a sad description of life for abandoned children at that time. I loved the dog characters and really connected with them. The ending is disappointing. I guess I wanted a happy ending after all the sadness, but we are not told how things ended for the do...more
Mary (BookHounds)
MY THOUGHTS
ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT

Ivan's mother has disappeared and her boyfriend is taking him to an orphanage when he escapes rather than be thrown into such a desolate place. As a five year old boy, he is among many of Russia's children that have fallen through the cracks where social safety nets are no longer existent because of the downfall of communism. With no systems or limited funds in place, these children form gangs and substitute families where abuse runs rampant between the older and yo...more
Susan
Once again, I'm struck by the power of a book that won't sit on the shelves in Fiction, but will take pride of place in the Young Adult section of the library.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed The Dogs of Winter. Actually, enjoyed is maybe not the best word. I was riveted, saddened, choked up with fear and sympathy for five year old Ivan and his dogs; rooting for him and horrified at the idea that this is based on a true story. Living on the streets and in the subway tunnels of an unnamed and...more
jv poore
In 1996 I was living in West Virginia. I had been out of college for one year. Despite having graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration, I could not find a job that paid more than minimum wage. Things seemed bleak; I felt desperate, alone and afraid. I felt that life was tough and unfair. I had no clue.

At the same time, in Moscow, four year old Ivan Mishukov walked out of his flat to escape the daily horrors bestowed upon him by his mother and her alcoholic boyfriend. Life on the streets...more
Lisa
When 5-year-old Mishka’s Babushka Ina dies and his mother is suddenly gone, the bad man takes him to The City. Mishka runs away and joins a gang of street kids who sleep in the train stations, steal and beg. As winter approaches, the gangs become more violent, as do the police who try to rid the underground of the homeless children. Mishka befriends a dog, Lucky, and his pack who let the small boy share their food and keep him warm. Soon, he is known as Dog Boy. These wild dogs protect him and h...more
Edgar Rodriguez
I have always thought of my life to be very low and poor, but just looking at the way Mishka lived in the cold winters of Russia changed everything. The book starts with the story of Mishka, his grandmother, and his mother, surviving life in the poor conditions of their home. They have only little money, and are having to face hardship daily. When things go from bad to worse, Mishka finds himself stranded on the streets, alone. This 5 year old boy goes on a journey for his life, finding new frie...more
myluckyself
It's books like these that always make me look back on my own life and think about what I've accomplished so far (or not accomplished, really). The world is so huge and filled with so many stories (cue SBS's 'six billion stories and counting'), many of them bad or horrific that I can only imagine just how lucky I am to live in my current "world" with access to everything I could possibly want, or need. And yet there is a certain emptiness I feel when I think about how my own experiences pale unb...more
Helen
I hope this makes the WAW nomination but we'll have to be careful with younger readers since it has references to drugs and prostitution. Again, like with Breaking Stalin's Nose, I haven't read much historical fiction about Russia, so I enjoyed learning about it. In this story a boy's mother dies and her boyfriend abandons him so he starts living on the streets and begging. He ends up living with a pack of dogs who love and accept him more than any of the people he meets. This is a yes vote for...more
Amy
Actually very wrenching read. My 12 year old son cried at the end and I actually only read the first half (shhhh, don't tell him, he'll kill me) because I have too much to read for award group and work right now. What I did read was beautiful and so very sad.
This novel works for both boys and girls. Targets readers who enjoy dog stories, adventure, other cultures and character heavy novels.
Alastair Smith
Usually, books about the horrors of "x" through a child's eyes annoy me (just look at "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas") but this book takes an honest and brutal look at taboo issues such as destitution, substance abuse and domestic violence in a way that doesn't feel cloying or condescending.

Nothing is sugar coated and descriptions are vivid and unique, giving a real insight to the street children of 90's Russia. Personally, I would have liked Ivan's relationship with Anya to be developed furthe...more
Brenda
I was looking for realistic fiction. I was looking for a book that was serious and that had a male main character. I came across Dogs of Winter, with a note on the cover saying, “based on a true story.” I thought I’d give it a try. Wow! I’m glad I did. The more I read the more I wondered. What is happening right now around me that I am not aware of? What can I do to help? How many starving children are there lurking in the background hoping to remain invisible, desperate to survive?

This is the s...more
Ms. Yingling
When five-year-old Ivan's beloved babushka (grandmother) dies, his single mother lapses into depression and ends up with an abusive boyfriend. Eventually, the mother disappears, and the boyfriend takes Ivan (whose mother called him Mishka) to the city, where he attempts to hand him over to an orphanage. Mishka feels that if he stays there, he will not not be able to find his mother, so he lives instead on the streets. The other children are mean because he is so small, although for a while he fa...more
Stacy Ford
Ivan's mother is dead and he is abandoned on the streets of Moscow where he bonds with a pack of dogs, together they help each other survive.

Character: Ivan is five years old and ages all the way up to eight years old in the story. He carries the story as he survives the streets of Moscow through rough winters, unrelentless street gangs, nefarious adults who may or may not want what is best for Ivan. Ivan grows from a naive 5 year old to a untrusting, street wise 8 year old.

Setting: Post Communi...more
Keisha Keenleyside
dogs of winter is a historical fiction told from a boy named mishka.
His life starts out like many peoples, with his mother loving and caring telling him stories and teaching him, however after the death of his grandmother his mum falls into a state of depression turning to a vile man hereby named as Him.
One day miskas mother goes missing there is blood on the floor and He tries to take Mishka to an orphanage. However mishka escapes the mans grip and from there on lives on the streets of russia.

I...more
Heidi
Bobbie Pyron has a gift for creating characters that live in my heart. She did it with A Dog's Way Home and she's done it with this one, The Dogs of Winter. Mishka won me over in the first few pages and my heart ached for the little boy's suffering and confusion. When his mother takes up with a 'bad' man who uses and abuses them both, Mishka (Little Bear) continues to believe in his mother's love and devotion even when he is forced to sleep in the pantry and goes hungry. But when his mother 'lea...more
Suzanne
I am more and more fasinated by the genre of books that is fiction but is based on true accounts. It used to be we had fiction and non-fiction; however, this new species of book is some sort of hybrid version. It includes extensive research and biblioghrapy lists and is fact-based except for whatever in them classifies them as fiction. I would love more information on these types of books and how they are classified. These kinds of books include books like Queen of Water by Reseau, Never Fall Do...more
Ruth Hill
When I began reading this book, I will be honest. Based on the picture, I kind of expected a Jack London type story. I soon realized just how wrong I was. How on earth was I to know that I would be reading historical fiction (recent history, but still history) that featured an amazing story that was emotional and realistic? In fact, the author's note at the end of the story, this story contains more truth than fiction. The book is written in first person, and I think this is a perfect story for...more
ACS Book-finder
Based on a true story, "The Dogs of Winter" is targeted for 6th grade readers and older.

Ivan is a 5-year old boy who has been abandoned on the streets of Russia. He encounters gangs of children who have been abandoned and they try to draw him to work for them. These gangs often are cruel and mistreat each other, as well as Ivan. Eventually Ivan ends up on his own and discovers a pack of dogs who help take care of him. The dogs become his family and Ivan even begins to look and act like his fami...more
Kaylie Ashton
Our book this month was Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron. We gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Overall we loved it! It was so different from many of the books most of us had read before. Each of us connected with it it a different way. The mums in the group found Mishka's story heart wrenching. The animal lovers found the pack fascinating.
We all loved that it was a fictional story based on true events. We found ourselves thinking about what we would have done in a similar situation, or how our kids would...more
Patricia Powell
“The Dogs of Winter” by Bobbie Pyron (Arthur A. Levine 2012) is based on a true story from 1990’s Russia. After the fall of the Soviet Union and its infrastructure was in shambles, gone were government-controlled health care, pension plans, and rent control. The poor were so poor they often couldn’t care for their children. The number of orphans and homeless on the streets were in the millions. Children formed packs as did the wandering dogs.
When winter approaches, Ivan's mother disappears from...more
Tina
Jun 26, 2013 Tina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: kid-lit, newbery
I was spellbound by this book right from the start. The setting is 1990's Russia and based on a true story. After the loss of his mother, 5yr. old Ivan is brought to Moscow, by his mother's abusive boyfriend and left there to fend for himself. He is forced to lie and steal by a gang of homeless children in order to eat and survive. He soon notices the packs of dogs that roam the street and is adopted by one of them after he defends and befriends them. The pack becomes not only his friends, but h...more
Alexa (Pages of Forbidden Love)
This review was originally posted at Pages of Forbidden Love

Near the end of last year I told myself that I wanted to start reading more middle grade books. I have kept my eyes open for the very best in the genre and when I was contacted about this book I jumped at the chance to read it. It sounded like a younger version of Between Shades of Grey. It is actually funny since the author of Between Shades of Grey has a blurb on the back of the book.

This story grabbed me from the beginning because I...more
Candace (Lovey Dovey Books)
Bobbie Pyron has taken a bit of history and turned it into a captivating tale of a little boy's survival. Never could I have imagined a child's bond with wild dogs as seen in The Dogs of Winter!

Ivan Andreovich is only five years old when his mother goes missing and her boyfriend tries to take Ivan to an orphanage. In the City, somewhere in Russia, Ivan decides to run away, hoping that his mother will come searching for him. He spends days and nights on the streets and train station, at first tak...more
Rebecca Graf
Stories are meant to entertain. They sometimes teach a message. They give you insight. Many times, they do all three. Bobbie Pyron does all that and more in The Dogs of Winter.

This is the story of a five year old Russian boy whose life is turned upside down when his mother brings in a new man who is abusive. Not long, he is taken to the big city and abandoned. What saves him is his determination and a pack of dogs that becomes his friends. They will survive each season and the cruelty of humans....more
Terri
After the fall of the Soviet Union the Russian economy was devastated. Jobs, housing and many public services were no longer subsidized by the government, and many families were suddenly thrust into poverty. Adults often turned to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain, and children suffered as a result. Thousands of children fled abusive homes or were abandoned by parents who could no longer feed them. This is the world of six-year-old Mishka who nevertheless has a happy life with his mother and Ba...more
Kara
The Dogs of Winter was at once sweet and terrifying. It is about a little boy who escapes his mother's abusive boyfriend to live on the streets of Moscow. He tries joining a band of street children but runs away from them and ends up living with a pack of street dogs. It's based on the true experiences of a Russian child after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a fact which always causes a double-take when I'm talking about this book with other people.

I thought the writing was a little uneven, t...more
Barbara
This deliciously atmospheric story about loss and hope in Moscow in the 1990s is positively riveting. When five-year-old Misha ends up homeless, he falls into the company of other children relying on their wits to survive. Through a chain of events he is befriended by a pack of dogs and throws his lot in with them. The author does a marvelous job of making her readers feel the extreme cold, hunger, and loneliness that Misha endures as well as the friendship and loyalty of his new pack. When well...more
Shirley
The Dogs of Winter is an amazing story of survival set in Russia during the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. The experiences of the boy,Ivan Mishukov,are disturbing. The book opens the eyes of readers to a time in history of which many are unaware. The novel is a fictional accounting of a true story that exposes the plight of homeless children. It reveals the best and worst of human nature through the actions of adults and children portrayed in the story. The pack mentalities of both do...more
Miguel
As a former volunteer for homeles (aka street) children in Romania this book raises a subject quite dear to my heart. To me the description of their lifes rings true, staying clear of the clichés and the common assumptions.

The main strength of this book lies in the depiction of the dogs. They really shine through these pages with passionate, warm words that can only come from direct observation and careful thought.

However, I think this story had the potential to be a classic. All through the fi...more
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