Amy and the Missing Puppy. by Callie Barkley. January 1, 2013. Little Simon. 128 pages. ISBN: 9781442457706
In this first book in the new Critter Club series, Amy is on her own for the week, while her friends spend Spring Break out of town. Luckily, Amy is an animal lover and her mom is a vet, so there’s lots for her to do to the pass the time. In fact, after just a couple of days, Amy finds herself involved in a mystery. Local billionaire Marge Sullivan has lost her dog, and Amy starts tracking the clues to find him. When her friends return home, they, too, have a hand in solving the mystery - and all the girls come together to find a way to help all the local animals who need them.
There is no doubt that this new series is directed at little girls. All the kids in the story are girls, and they’re into horses, dogs, and playing MASH (the game that determines a girl’s future husband, house, etc.). The cover shows hints of purple. The illustrations inside have a clear heart motif. The entire layout of the books is very stereotypically girls, and visually, I already know it will appeal to girls who are reading Cupcake Diaries, Rainbow Magic, and other similarly packaged chapter books.
Despite the fluffy appearance, though, this is a book with substance. Amy is a well-rounded character whose personality comes through in details like her constant blushing when she’s embarrassed, and her love for Nancy Drew mysteries. The story is realistic enough that it actually does seem believable that Amy could solve a case like this on her own, and that makes trying to solve it alongside her that much more fun. Readers will be able to put the clues together on their own - the author doesn’t play any tricks or withhold any information.
Interestingly, though this first book is a mystery subsequent titles in the series are not, so adults will want to be aware of that when presenting this book to kids. This specific book might be a great read-alike for Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew and Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super Sleuths, but the series as a whole is more like the Cupcake Diaries, Welcome to Silver Street Farm, or The Sleepover Squad.
This is a solid start to a new series sure to win over 8-year-old animal lovers everywhere. Amy and the Missing Puppy will be published on January 1, 2013, along with the second book of the series, All About Ellie. In the meantime, check out the adorable trailer below, and take a look at this graphic excerpt on Simon & Schuster’s website.
I received a digital ARC of Amy and the Missing Puppy from Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss.
For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.