Friday, February 2, 2018

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

[Originally published March 3, 2010. Updated and revised.]

Once upon a time, there was a group of kids in the library who wanted dog books. Stories about dogs! Books about dogs with pictures! Anything 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!

Now eight years later, Buddy has a solid series of mysteries under his collar - and his backstory, from his time with owner Kayla, is being expounded in a series of easy readers.

Verdict: Dori Butler is definitely the go-to for mysteries for the younger set and this series has proved its worth over the years. Hand this one to kids who like animals, realistic stories, mysteries, and humor - there's something for everyone. A highly recommended series, widely available in a number of formats.

ISBN: 9780807509104; Published March 2010 by Albert Whitman; ARC provided by the publisher at ALA; Purchased for the library

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