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Summary: King is not just an ordinary dog, he's a canine detective. Right now he's in the p-o-u-n-d (don't say it!) with a mystery on his hands: what happened to his human Kayla and her dad. King is working on an escape plan when fate intercedes. Connor and his mom adopt King - whom Connor renames Buddy - and take him home. Buddy thinks he's gone to heaven because they live in his old neighborhood, so he can start looking for Kayla! But before that happens, Connor goes missing. How can King/Buddy find someone he just met? This is an illustrated chapter book series for transitional readers (second and third grade)
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 9; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 6 to 10
Reading Level: 3.5
Age of Child: Read by a nine-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: We used "read by" but "devoured by" would be more appropriate. This is the second title she read, but it didn't seem to bother her that she read book 2 before book 1. She loves Buddy and the other animal characters.
Adult Reader Reaction: These are fun stories to share. We love that our daughter wants to read them by herself, but they make great read-together books, too. One of my favorite things about the book is that Buddy talks to the reader and other neighborhood animals in English, but he speaks "dog" (bark, woof, etc.) to Connor, his mom, and other humans. It adds a layer of problem solving that kids can help him with. I also like how Buddy stops periodically to list what he knows (or doesn't). That's also a good tool for modeling critical thinking.
Pros: A cute dog, a mystery, and lots of action will engage readers of all interest levels in this story. It is a nice selection for dormant and young underground readers alike.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. These are books that you'll enjoy sharing with your kids as they listen and, when they get older (or need to read with younger siblings) they can read for themselves.
Educational Themes: Buddy demonstrates critical thinking and creative problem solving. There are several logical places where you can stop and ask the reader "what would you do" before moving on to see what Buddy did. One of the undercurrents of the story is that Connor doesn't like that he had to move and doesn't live near his dad. This would make a nice book for raising the subject of change or divorce without being "in your face" about it.
Notes: This publisher sent a copy of this book as part of the 2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils. The book will be donated to a reader in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - animal stories, mystery, adventure, series book
Date(s) Reviewed: November 2010
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