Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In 1957, a stray dog became the first living mammal to go into space. Laika was nicknamed "Muttnik" in the US, a reference to the first satellite put into orbit. Nikita Khrushchev, the premier of the USSR at the time was famous for his dramatic actions as well as his antagonism toward the west. Sputnik took the world by storm, and he meant the Laika episode to add even more momentum to the view that the Soviets were technologically superior.

This book details Laika's transformation from stray dog to cosmonaut. Some parts are imagined, as tales of her life before she came into the space program are entirely speculative. Writer/artist Nick Abadzis creates a realistic and touching account and combines it with well researched stories about the main caretaker, Yelena Dubrosky, and the chief designer, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. The result is an affecting story that combines love, duty, and determination to create one's own destiny. By the end of the book, the effects and sacrifices linked to this historic space mission are made clear. It is a dazzling combination of fact and fiction.

Nick Abadzis wrote and drew this work. He has worked on numerous comics projects since 1987, with work appearing in Marvel UK books and Deadline magazine. He also moonlighted as a writer for the Bob the Builder TV series. His work on Laika has won him many accolades, including the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Teen Graphic Novel. The book appeared on many different "best of" lists, including Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year, the Young Adult Library Services Association's Great Graphic Novels, and the New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age Reader.

The book's publisher First Second is renowned for its quality graphic novels. Reviews of the book are overwhelmingly positive, as seen in this array here from the publisher and these from Goodreads. A short interview with Abadzis about his career and work on Laika is available here.

The book's official site has a wealth of resources. Additionally, some preview pages are available here.

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