07 May 2007
Max Moves to Moscow
Author/Illustrator: Winifred Riser
Max Moves to Moscow is a revealing story about America's influence on life in post-communist Russia. Max the black lab (democracy) moves from the U.S. to Russia. At first, he encounters an unwelcoming society that is buried under a thick blanket of snow from the harsh communist winter (and the literally cold war). However, due to his persistence and American can-do attitude, Max eventually makes friends with the dogs in the park and teaches them a new ball game (capitalism). This game proves to have a steep learning curve* and the dogs keep losing the balls in the snow.
When the snow eventually melts, suddenly there are balls all over the place, ushering in a period of general chaos as the dogs struggle to deal with their newfound wealth. Yeltsin the Russian Bulldog eventually takes charge of the game and keeps the balls for himself and his friends... while the other dogs wait in long lines for toilet paper. When Yeltsin tires of playing, Putin the Russian Greyhound takes over and immediately tightens the rules and institutes a ruthlessly efficient authoritarian style to the game. More dogs get to play, but they aren't even sure if it's the same game anymore... or if they still want to play. Problem is, no one dares to stop or even call timeout. When Putin says play, you play--his bite is definitely worse than his bark. The last dog that tried to get out of the game mysteriously died from uranium poisoning.
*Grammar note: I used the term "steep learning curve" because that's what people say. But, as is so often the case, people are wrong. This from a website called Word Pirates:
"Many people refer to things that are difficult to learn as having a "steep learning curve." However, if a learnign curve is steep, this means that for smaller increments of time, larger gains in learnign are accomplished - a smaller run leads to relatively more rise int eh curve, so this would mean that the item was actually easier to learn. One would have to say "difficult learning curve' or "long learning curve."
Good point. But jeez, pirates... ever hear of spellcheck? Maybe they don't have it installed aboard their ships. If they even have ships. Wait, I bet they're not even real pirates! My guess is that they're goofballs with fake eyepatches that try to incorporate "arrrr" into every sentence. But don't underestimate these faux-buccaneers. They are more dangerous than they first appear... they will bore you to death with their riveting discussions about semantics and grammarrrrrrr. Personally, I'd rather walk the plank.