Laika in the Stars
Rescue horses, wartime carrier pigeons, police dogs – in Laika tussen de sterren Bibi Dumon Tak places the focus on the animal as a rescuer of humans. For this collection of factual animal stories, the author spoke to pigeon fanciers and dog trainers, and visited an animal experimentation lab, because no book about animals whose lives are dedicated to helping people could be without a chapter about laboratory animals. But she doesn’t pass judgment. It’s up to the young reader to decide whether to buy Mum make-up that’s not been tested on animals for her birthday from now on.
Dumon Tak’s commitment to the subject is evident in every chapter. Whether she’s writing about guide dogs for the blind or animals used in advertising, the thorough research underlying the piece is always clear.
In this book too, Dumon Tak does more than merely inform her readers her words flow happily along, somersaulting over one another, so some parts read almost like a story. Such as the chapter that lends its title to the book, for example, which describes Laika the dog’s career as an astronaut. But however exciting that career might sound to children’s ears, Dumon Tak does not neglect to mention that the poor creature had already died from heat exhaustion on her fourth orbit of the earth. The compelling narrative style, however, ensures Dumon Tak’s book makes even the saddest stories of animal suffering bearable for children.
By Joukje Akveld