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Summary: Riley, Jake, and Mongo were playing pizza crust football when the phone rang. Briana needed their help. School bully Gavin Brown was picking on a fifth grader! They diffused that situation and decided to hatch a plan to stop Gavin for good. While they're working on that, something awful happens: Mongo's new dog has been stolen! Can they find a dog AND stop a bully at the same time? This middle grade adventure features a boy, his friends, and their dogs.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 and up; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 9 and up
Reading Level: 5.2
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This was a really fun, refreshing read. Riley and his friends are "real" kids in "real" families. Young readers will especially relate to how adults put down kids, but cheer when the adults are wrong. There is a McGyver-esque quality to the story and a few twists that you don't see coming.
Pros: Lots of action, plenty of humor, and a few surprises make this a perfect pick for reading aloud. Kids will want to be like Riley and his gang!
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. If you have a mystery lover, buy it! This is a great addition for the shelf.
Educational Themes: There are several spots in the story where you can stop and ask "what do you think will happen next" or "who do you think did it." This would be a good book for teaching sequencing and timelines, as well as critical analysis (events, what do you know, what do you assume, what don't you know).
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, crime and mystery, series
Date(s) Reviewed: December 2013, February 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.