Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Butler, illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau

I received a review copy of this at ALA and just stuck it on the pile. It's been sitting there awhile because...well, I had a bad experience with a dog detective book last fall, and wasn't in the mood to read Albert Whitman is kinda branded as Boxcar Children and....anyways, I just didn't get around to it.

Then, a few weeks ago, there was a group of little girls in the library wanting dog books! Stories about dogs! Books about dogs with pictures! Anything we had on dogs! They liked dogs! They were very enthusiastic!

And I thought, "I should review that Buddy book," so I sat down and read it that evening....and fell in love.

Buddy (his name is really King, but....) is such a marvelous, distinctive character. Even children who are reluctant to read about an anthropomorphic animal will love Buddy's realistic, humorous, and believable voice. Buddy has been sent to the P-O-U-N-D; but he's sure it's a mistake and he's desperate to get out and find his girl, Kayla, who called him the "King of crime-solving". When he gets adopted by a new family, he's determined to use it as an opportunity to escape and find Kayla, but ends up helping his new owners instead.

Although there's a lot of humor and light-heartedness on the surface of the story, it's also full of suspence, genuine mystery, and some deep issues. Buddy's confusion and torn loyalties and the misery of the boy whose family has adopted Buddy will resonate with any child who's had to endure a divorce or experienced adoption or foster care. Unlike many beginning chapter books, there's a genuine mystery and a logical sequence of clues - with an unexpected ending, just in case you thought it was too easy!

Verdict: Hand this one to kids who like animals, realistic stories, mysteries, and humor. A highly recommended series - the first three books are being released simultaneously in March and I've already ordered the additional titles for our library.

ISBN: 978-0807509104; Published March 2010 by Albert Whitman; ARC provided by the publisher at ALA; Purchased for the library

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