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Groundwood Books

The Stray and the Strangers

Written by Steven Heighton • Illustrated by Melissa Iwai

For readers 6 - 9 years old | Published September 01, 2020 | ISBN 9781773063812
JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Dogs

Cover of The Stray and the Strangers

Regular price $16.95 CAD

96 pages | 7.75 in × 5 in
Print Format

About this book

The Stray and the Strangers

Steven Heighton • Melissa Iwai

The fishermen on Lesbos call her Kanella because of her cinnamon color. She’s a scrawny, nervous stray — easily intimidated by the harbor cats and the other dogs that compete for handouts on the pier.

One spring day a dinghy filled with weary, desperate strangers comes to shore. Other boats follow, laden with refugees who are homeless and hungry. Kanella knows what that is like, and she follows them as they are taken to a makeshift refugee camp in the parking lot of an abandoned nightclub. There she comes to trust a bearded man — an aid worker. She gradually settles into a contented routine, given shelter like the other refugees who line up for food and sleep on the ground for a few nights before being taken to a much bigger, permanent camp that the aid workers call Mordor.

Kanella grows healthy and confident. She has a job now — to keep watch over the people in her camp.

One day, a little boy arrives and does not leave like the others. He seems to have no family and, like Kanella, he is taken in by the workers. He sleeps on a cot in the food hut, and Kanella keeps him warm and calm. And then two new adults come to the camp. Kanella is ready to defend the boy from them, until she is pulled away by the bearded man. They are the boy’s parents, and now he must go with them.

The camp is eventually dismantled, and Kanella finds herself homeless again. Until one night, huddled in the cold, she awakens to see two bright lights shining in her eyes — the headlights of a car. The bearded man has come back for her, and soon Kanella is on a journey, too, to a new home of her own.

About the Creators

Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton is an award-winning author of poetry, novels and short stories. His work has been translated into ten languages, and his most recent novel, The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep, described as a literary thriller, was published to rave reviews in 2017. His most recent volume of poetry, The Waking Comes Late, won the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. He is also a fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review,and he has taught and presented at universities and literary festivals around the world. The Stray and the Strangers is his first work for young readers.

Melissa Iwai

Melissa Iwai is the illustrator of more than 30 books, including Night Shift Daddy by Eileen Spinelli.

Awards and Praise

Praise for Steven Heighton:

“Heighton is a terrific writer.” – The Guardian

“Heighton’s writing would hold its own in any literary circle.” – Chicago Tribune

“Heighton is an experienced adventurer in literary form ... a sense of boldness and risk-taking infuses [his work].” – New York Times Book Review