Monday, August 21, 2017

Finding Gobi {Book Review}

Sometimes a story is just so good, you have to share it with everyone. This is one of those stories, the true tale of a man and a dog, and the long journey they shared to finally get to live their lives together. The story is so compelling and wide-reaching, it has been adapted into not one, but three books geared to different audiences - a picture book for the wee ones, a chapter book for young readers, plus the main version, written at a level for an adult audience. The main version was released in June, and the two children's books are coming August 29. I received the two children's books to review, and was captivated.
Dion and Gobi. Image courtesy
So, what is Finding Gobi all about? It's astounding, actually. Dion Leonard is an ultra-marathoner, which means he competes in insanely long and difficult races in inhospitable conditions all over the world. In June 2016, he was competing in one such race in China's Gobi Desert, when he encountered a little dog. This little dog took a liking to him and ran with him for 77 of the 155 miles of the race. The dog was devoted to him, and over the course of the 7 day race, Dion became devoted to her, naming her Gobi, for the desert where they met. At the end of the race, he decided to adopt her and take her home with him to Scotland.

But that is nowhere near the end of their story. The logistics involved in bringing a stray/feral dog from China to Britain are complicated, as you might imagine. Dion had to leave Gobi behind in China, with one of the race volunteers, while he went home and started the inquiries and paperwork. Unfortunately, Gobi disappeared from this person's care, and was lost in a city of 3 million people. The resulting search for this little dog is both heart-warming and heart-rending, and involved financial donors and volunteers from around the globe.

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey is presented for young readers, in the 9-16 year old range. My junior reviewer was away at camp, so I decided I would at least skim through it to get a feel for the writing and story. I read it cover to cover in under 2 hours. The story is told primarily in Dion's voice, using straightforward language and composition, suitable to the target age. But it does not talk down to the kids, and was compelling for this adult reader as well. Interspersed with Dion's story are short entries from Gobi's perspective. These are endearing, and are exactly the sort of thoughts we dog owners often ascribe to our pets. These are "cute" for sure, but they are infrequent and short enough that the balance is great. Your tween won't be put off by the cuteness.

This version tells the full story, from Dion and Gobi first meeting in the desert, to her finally travelling home with him, months later. There are great messages here about friendship, perseverance, courage and the kindness of strangers. There's also solid evidence of the power of social media in bringing people together for a common cause. The book also provides interesting facts about the culture and people of China and the Gobi Desert, so there's some learning as well. The story does include anxious moments, but we know the happy ending is coming, so they are easier to read.

Gobi: A Little Dog with a Big Heart is the picture book, for kids ages 1-8, and is adorable. It is told entirely from Gobi's perspective, and takes the story only until the end of the race. This approach both shortens the story for shorter attention spans, and avoids getting into the scarier details of her later disappearance and all the anxiety of the search to find her again. It's a wonderful, feel-good story of man and dog becoming best friends, with great illustration by Lisa Manuzak.

I truly enjoyed both of these books, and I recommend them for any young dog lovers in your life!

Get Yours

You can pre-order the books from Amazon here:
(affiliate links, so I will receive a small commission from Amazon for any purchases made)

Get Social

Connect with Dion and get the latest on Gobi's story at, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Disclosure: I received complimentary review copies of these books. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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