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Book Review

Lara’s Gift



As a young girl, I fell in love with the stories by Jim Kjelgaard about the Irish Setter (“Big Red, Irish Red”). I have again fallen in love with a dog story, this time about the Borzoi or Russian wolfhound. Written for the younger reader aged 10 to 14, Annemarie O’Brien tells her story with expert knowledge of the breed and its history in Russia.


In the early 20th century on an aristocratic estate in Russia, Lara witnesses the birth of a new litter of Borzoi puppies. Her father is the estate’s kennel steward and has taught her much about the Borzoi. Lara hopes to succeed him in his position. She has the gift of vision, something her father does not want her to reveal, but such leads her to save the runt of the litter.



Several years later, the birth of a brother jeopardizes her chances to continue her work with the dogs. Her pick from the litter is ignored by her father due to his small size, but Lara knows that Zar is all that a Borzoi is expected to be. It is only through hunts for wolves that he can prove his courage and abilities, but her father is hesitant to offer Zar the opportunity. However, situations arise that prove Zar’s worth to the breeding program.


Ms. O’Brien’s background of living in Russia and her devotion to the Borzoi are clearly represented in this book. I highly recommend it to the dog-loving younger set. As a dog lover and a history fan, this story was a joy to read.


BOOK LarasGiftBy Annemarie O’Brien
Yearling Books (ages 10 -14)
Pub Date: July 22, 2014
Paperback $7.99
193 Pages

Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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