Children/Young: Musgo

Author: David Cirici
-US Release Date: 01-01-2013
-Reviewed by:Teresa Mlawer
-Review Release:March 18, 2014

Originally I gave a score of 3 to this book, which shows how important it is to be able to read the story before rating the contents of a book.

The story is narrated in the voice of Musgo, a medium-sized dog with curly black hair.  He starts the story by telling the reader about his early years, and he describes himself as a happy dog.  He arrived at the home where he lives now after being rescued from a kennel and the entire family dots on him, but especially he is very close to the children, Janinka and her little brother Mirek. However, everything changes drastically when that awful war came knocking on their door.

One night bombs fall on the house and there is no time to run to a shelter. Musgo runs for cover under Janinka’s bed. After the bombs stop, everything is a total devastation: the house is no longer standing, and the family, including the children, is nowhere to be found.  As the days, weeks and months go by, Musgo goes back to where the house once stood, but he is never able to find any member of his family.

Musgo wanders through alleys, dark corners and train tracks until he encounters four stray dogs and they become his new family. However, Musgo never gives up, through his keen sense of smell, trying to find his beloved Janinka and Mirek. 

But life is not easy and he, along with his friends, is captured by an unscrupulous couple, who once owned a circus, and wants to use them to fight a ferocious lion. One of the dogs gets killed in the fight and the lion breaks his knee, and the couple decides to sell the three dogs to a group of military men.  

The three dogs are led to a prison camp where they are taught to bark every time a prisoner gets close to the barbed-wire fence. One day, a prisoner named Pavel approaches the dogs, starts caressing them and feeds them whatever little food he can spare.  The animals, hungry and cold, soon understand that the prisoner’s scraps of food are more important than to bark. Until finally one night Pavel and other prisoners escape from prison and the dogs follow them.

Musgo and another dog that was able to escape are adopted by Pavel and they move to the same town where Musgo once lived. The three of them live in a small apartment and often go for walks in the park. It’s during one of those walks that Musgo perceives the smell and hears the voice of Mirek, and even though he is sure that it’s Mirek, they are not able to reunite.  

Another day, while in the park, Musgo recognizes Janinka playing in a yard of an orphanage. Musgo runs towards the girl who is surprised at first but overwhelmed with happiness when she sees her beloved Musgo. The director of the orphanage tells Pavel that the girl’s parents were killed during the air-raid and that the girl had wondered around the city for days, totally lost.

Janinka is adopted by Pavel and his wife Maria. Musgo’s happiness is complete when a few months later they also find Mirek. 

Musgo is an example of fidelity, of overcoming many hardships and rising over and over again in the winding road of life. Readers will enjoy this story while admire such a little big hero.