Lucy must be a very intelligent girl, since she is able to build a rocket capable of traveling nearly the speed of light from stray parts—that then accidentally launches her hapless basset hound, Laika, into space.
From that point, the tale alternates between Laika’s strange adventures and Lucy’s not especially commonplace life, as the white, science-focused girl learns to manage her grief over her lost dog and grows into a very clever astrophysicist. She’s so clever that she wins the Nobel Prize for physics. Laika’s adventures simply increase in strangeness, as she’s rescued by doglike extraterrestrials in a bone-shaped spacecraft that passes through a wormhole on its way to Alpha Centauri. For Laika, time spins rapidly past. For Lucy, a lifetime goes by before they are miraculously reunited. The tale is told in often repetitive language that’s reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s style, with most sentences unvarying in structure. This somehow imparts a sense of fable rather than mere story, but this style has the potential to grow tedious and annoying. Saving it from tedium are Laika’s delicious doggy enthusiasm, Arnaldo’s evocative illustrations, the lovely, simple explanation of difficult concepts of space and time, and, of course, a very happy ending.
For those who might enjoy a dog book, a science book, or just a good story. (Science fiction. 10-14)