Finding Zasha

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Finding Zasha
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Release Date
January 01, 2013
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Randi Barrow is back with another gripping heroic World War II story about a boy and his best friend, a German shepherd!

In 1941, the Germans began the long, bloody siege on Leningrad. During the chaos, twelve-year-old Ivan is sent to live with relatives when his mother's job is moved to the mountains. But it is a long and dangerous journey to get out of Leningrad. After settling into a new town it falls under Nazi occupation and Ivan is picked by Axel Recht, an especially heinous soldier, to come work for the Nazis. One of Ivan's more pleasant tasks is to train Alex's dogs. Yet Ivan is determined to use his position to undermine the Nazis and rescue the dogs. But Ivan underestimates Axel's attachment to Zasha and Thor, and soon finds himself being hunted by a ruthless soldier who will stop at nothing to get his dogs back. As World War II rages around them, Ivan must find a way to hide from Axel, protect Zasha and Thor, avoid the constant barrage of deadly bombings, and survive in the devastating conditions of a city cut off from the world.

Editor review

1 review
World War II-- Germans and German Shepherds
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
This prequel to Saving Zasha recounts the story of Ivan, who is living in an apartment in Leningrad with his mother. When the city is bombed, a neighbor comes to live with them, and Auntie, who has lived through the revolution, shows Ivan many tricks that he needs to survive. She has hoarded food under floorboards, has rubles stuffed into table legs, and is unemotional about burning her furniture and books for fuel when times get tough. When Ivan's mother's job in a factory gets moved to another city, Ivan and Auntie head off to his Uncle Boris' cabin. After a harrowing journey, which involved walking six miles over a frozen lake when the truck they are in breaks down as well as a run in with partisans, Ivan decides to stay with Auntie at her relative's house. Galina knows that danger is coming, but is glad of having Ivan's help. Most of the small neighborhood is deserted, with residents heading off to Moscow, but the remaining people are trying to fight the Nazis. When the local commander, Axel Recht, sees Ivan play the concertina, he asks Ivan to come live at the base. Ivan agrees because he can spy on the Germans there, and also because he is worried for two German Shepherd puppies, Zasha and Thor. He wants to help them escape for their own safety, and also so that the partisans can use them instead of the Nazis. This, of course, is fraught with danger, but Ivan manages to break free of the Nazis and live through the war without bringing himself to their attention. Axel Recht, however, is a horrible man bent on revenge, and he is bound and determined to find Ivan and the dogs.

Good Points
I liked the first book, but am very glad that this came out. It is filled with all of the excitement that Saving Zasha could have used. Survival in Leningrad, a perilous journey away from the city, dealing with the Nazis and eventually escaping them-- excellent stuff. Now that we know Zasha's backstory, reading about what happens to her after the war makes a lot more sense. The covers of both of these are both beautiful and scary at the same time!
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