On a cold winter day, a curious dog wanders onto a frozen river. Suddenly, the ice starts breaking up, and soon the dog is adrift and traveling — the unwilling passenger on a fast-moving sheet of ice.
The dramatic rescue of this little lost dog, who traveled seventy-five miles in two days, is a true story that will warm reader’s hearts. Monica Carnesi’s poignant text and charming illustrations perfectly convey the excitement of this remarkable tale, and readers will root for this little dog every step of the way.
Monica Carnesi is a librarian by day and author/illustrator by night (and weekends!) She is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so she speaks Portuguese (and a little bit of Spanish.) She loves animals, with a soft spot for dogs, all kinds of art supplies, and dark chocolate.
Where did you originally get the idea for Little Dog Lost?
I got the idea from the news — I was home from work, getting dinner ready while listening to NPR, and heard the news about the rescue of a dog on the Baltic sea. I had missed the news on the day it happened. What I heard was an update, letting listeners know that Baltic, the dog that had been rescued by a research ship on the Baltic Sea had been adopted by a member of the crew.
What guides or references did you use while creating the illustrations for Little Dog Lost?
Because this book is based on a true story, I made sure to read all I could about the real Baltic and the actual rescue. I found video recordings that the crew had done with Polish television stations and had them translated into English. It was exciting to hear what they had to say! There were also videos showing parts of the rescue. Researchers from the Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management who were aboard the ship graciously provided me with pictures taken before and after the rescue. I also looked for pictures of the R/V Baltica, the research ship that rescued Baltic.
Were there any pivotal changes that your story/illustrations underwent throughout the writing/editing process?
A lot of changes happened during the writing/editing process — the story was real, but coming up with the right voice to tell it and with the right pacing took many versions. Writing and illustrating a picture book is a very collaborative process. One example is the scene when Baltic finds himself alone on the ice floe at night. I originally planned to show him by himself, looking at the moon. I felt the image captured Baltic’s isolation, but when I met with my editor and art director they suggested a different approach: the use of panels to better depict the passage of time and Baltic’s loneliness. So I went back to my drawing table and came back with a new sketch for that page, which I think works much better than my original idea. It’s one of my favorite pages in the whole book!
What would you say is the primary message of Little Dog Lost?
After I heard the story on the news I couldn’t stop thinking about Baltic and the crew that rescued him. The story stayed with me because it is such a wonderful reminder of the power of kindness. And that’s what I think is the primary message of this book: how a brave little dog found the strength to stay afloat on an ice floe against all odds, and how the crew of a ship did all it could to save him. It is such an uplifting tale of courage and empathy.
An edge-of-your-seat adventure story, based on a true story, for the very young — with a text that also works beautifully as a beginning reader for older children.
A terrifying adventure set against an icy backdrop turns into a heartwarming tale of one canine’s remarkable courage and resilience. This lost little dog will easily find a place in children’s hearts.
In this debut, Carnesi conveys the immensity of the scenery as well as the intimacy of the dog’s tale. And the fear abates with the story’s reassuringly warm and cozy ending.