Emerging independent reader. That is a new title that we’ve learned this year now that our second grader has started school. Technically in the (insert reading scale and letter here) when it comes to reading independently. Gobi, A Little Dog With a Big Heart is just a bit more difficult that that level, but its content is spot-on with what he wants to read about.
He loves reading about animals. He also likes reading non-fiction or at least using his imagination to think about the fact of ‘if’ this story could be true. Gobi is the true story about Dion Leonard a long distance runner and one of his races across the Gobi Desert. This 155 mile race, takes seven days in conditions where the high is 120 and just as it starts a little dog runs beside him.
As a rational thinking adult so many things about that situation defy logic. The largest of which is how much I would freak out if I saw a dog running beside me in the Gobi Desert. Is this dog chasing me? What if this dog attracts cobras? How can a dog live out here in the remotest corner of the Gobi Desert? Is this dog going to trip me just as I’m starting out on the run?
Granted all of these internal questions for me are selfish. But that’s the unknown fear that I have due to the fact that I have not been in that situation. For long distance runner Dion Leonard his biggest concern was to not look back. Over the next couple of miles the little dog kept pace with Dion. He stopped for water, gave him a little from his bottle and liked the unexpected company that was running with him. As day turned to night, the little dog earned the nickname Gobi, because he was a tough as the desert that Dion was running through.
That 7-day course had a couple specific challenges that tested and strengthened their newfound friendship. At the end of the race both of them received a medal. What a great story. This is totality that makes up Gobi, A Little Dog With A Big Heart which is a children’s book. It’s slightly too long to be a good-night book, but the content is appropriate for any age. Gobi is best suited for ages 6-9 so that they can read it on their own, possibly with a little assistance.
For adults or more advanced readers who want to read more about Gobi there are more adventures. After the race Dion took Gobi to Urumqi, a city in northwest China to wait out the quarantine process, but the little dog escaped. They organized a large scale search party and located Gobi, who was promptly taken to Beijing so that they could stay together during the remainder of the quarantine.
Whichever version you read it’s a great story that can provide inspiration to kids and dog people anywhere. Gobi is jammed with full-color illustrations that take up every inch of the pages that illustrate the sandy isolation of the area he’s named for.