Greg Van Eekhout is now one of my favorite authors thanks to his Daniel Blackland series, starting with California Bones. In it he created a fascinating magic system called osteomancy, where one gets magical properties through consuming the remains of magical creatures. Magical creatures also being fellow spell casters. Not exactly fit for the tween and under set. However, Greg has just had Voyage of the Dogs come out and it is all ages.
If you know a child that loves dogs and thinks outer space is cool, put this immediately into their hands. It is the story of four dogs, Barkonauts, on their way across the galaxy to help start up humanity’s first outpost on another world. Humans and dogs have always been together and so dogs are going with the first colonists to Stepping Stone. Along with spaceflight, humans have created implants to help them understand dog body language and vocalizations. Dog intelligence has developed as well. Between those two advances, dogs and humans are able to communicate and work together as never before.
Four dogs comprise the Barkonaut crew. The leader is Champion, a golden retriever, ship’s Captain assistant and future lead of search and rescue on Stepping Stone. Lopside, a mixed terrier who is excellent at sniffing out electrical problems, fitting into tight spaces that the human crew has difficulty reaching, and assisting the crew in a variety of tasks. Bug, a corgi who works in engineering due to high intelligence. And Daisy, a great dane puppy who’s strength is used in moving gear and will help with construction planet side.
Unfortunately, all does not go according to plan. The dogs wake from hibernation to discover that they have not arrived at Stepping Stone, their human crew is missing, and the space ship has been massively damaged. Wanting to be good dogs, the Barkonauts attempt to complete their mission of bringing seeds and embryos to the planet as they try to solve the mystery of the missing crew. Part mystery, part disaster survival, all science fiction with dogs as the characters, this is a great read that my ten year old and I enjoyed.
Fun fact, the dog on the cover of the book is Lopside and he is based on Greg’s dog.