“Laika, Astronaut Dog”, I hear you protest, “but dogs can’t go into space!” which is where you are in fact incorrect, because Owen Davey’s latest children’s book is actually based on a true story. According to reliable sources (Wikipedia) Laika was a stray mongrel found on the streets of Moscow who was chosen to be launched into space in the 1950s as part of Russia’s investigations into the impact of spaceflight of living creatures, officially earning the title Soviet Spacedog.
It’s actually quite a sad story, but one that’s beautifully dealt with in Owen’s touching tribute to the little pup, embracing as the book does themes of loss, grief and memory alongside exciting ventures into the unknown. As ever, Owen’s trademark folky style makes his wordless books just as appealing to adults as they are to children, allowing him to bridge gaps between audiences in the most effortless of ways. This might explain why he has been picked to create images for clients from Orange and Time Out to Unilever and Microsoft. There’s so much brilliant work in his portfolio that it’s actually a bit overwhelming.