Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Monika Schröder and Frank!

Monika & Frank
My Brother's Shadow
A while back, I got an email from my friend and Fido and Friend alum, Augusta Scattergood, that said, "I met this author at an event in North Carolina this weekend. You need to have her on Fido and Friend in Five!" I was, of course, familiar with Monika Schröder because of her books which we have in the library where I work. I went on Monika's website just to check her out and, WOW! What a story she and her dog Frank have! I'll tell you more about their amazing story in just a minute. So then, I contacted Monika about being on Fido and Friend (which she graciously agreed to) and we discovered we have all kinds of things in common! She was a librarians (I still am). We both have had books with the word "dog" in the title get starred reviews from Kirkus. We both have a dog rescued from the streets. We both have husbands named Todd (who like to take naps), and we both are friends with one of our favorite authors (and also, I might add, a F&F alum) Barbara O'Conner. And as it turns out, Monika and her Todd (and Frank) live in the little town of Mars Hill in the mountains of North Carolina--a place I lived many years ago!

Monika grew up in Germany and worked as a research assistant in the German parliament. She's taught at international schools in Egypt (where she met her Todd), Chile, and Oman. She taught first grade and later became a school librarian in New Delhi, India. Two very important things came out of those years in India: her highly acclaimed book, Saraswati's Way, and her dog, Frank.

As anyone who's been to India knows, there are lots and lots of homeless dogs living on the streets. They're everywhere, begging and scavenging what they can to survive. Many are malnourished and have lost their fur to mange. Frank was one such dog. As Monika tells us, "During winter break of 2009, a small, honey-colored dog appeared in front of gate two of our school's compound. He always gave a friendly wag of his tail when he saw us coming and would sometimes accompany me on my morning run."Eventually, Frank won a permanent home in Monika and Todd's hearts and home. But like my street dog, Boo, life with an ex-street dog wasn't easy. Like Boo, he didn't get along with other dogs and he had not had the early socialization skills he needed to live in a "civilized" world. And like my Boo Girl, Frank is an excellent mouser, and probably too smart for his own good. Still, as Monika says on her website, "Frank has become a much valued author-companion. He listens to me when I read a draft aloud and calls me for a walk when he senses I need a break. He also loves stretching next to me on the couch while I write."Frank has traveled to Germany on holiday and moved with Monika and Todd to the U.S. in 2011.
New Delhi street dogs

No doubt Frank was a huge help as Monika wrote her latest book, My Brother's Shadow. Set in Berlin during World War I, My Brother's Shadow, is a haunting, fast-paced coming of age story informed by the devastation of war.

Let's meet these two world travelers in today's Fido and Friend in Five:

1. How did you and Frank find each other?
Frank finds a home!
My husband and I used to work at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. We lived on the school’s compound and during winter break 2009/10 we noticed a honey colored street dog “hanging out” outside the school gate. Many dogs live on the streets in India. They often attach themselves to a guard post or a construction site, waiting for handouts. This beautiful, smart looking dog showed up every morning and then began to accompany me on my morning jog. He had the most expressive face and on the last day of winter break we decided to take him in.
Frank loves music!

2. What makes Frank's tail wag?
He loves when it's time for his walk. He also gets excited when his dinner is being prepared and he likes when his friend Bucky comes to play.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?
When I was still a school librarian I used to love reading MOVE OVER ROVER to kindergarteners. They would all chant the refrain of the book and we laughed a lot. I also like HOW TO STEAL A DOG and BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE. 

4. If Frank could change just one thing about you, what would that be?
"It reads better this way, Mom."
He probably would have me take the fence around the garden down. He would rather roam freely and chase cats and squirrels in the neighborhood. But we worry that he gets hit by a car or lost so we need to keep him within the fenced area.

"Fascinating? You bet!"
5. In five words, tell us what Frank means to you:
Adorable pet, love, fascinating companion.

Thanks so much to Monika and Frank for visiting with Fido
and Friend in Five! To find out more about Monika and her books,
and to see more photos of Frank, visit her website.

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