It's Blitz day for Carolyn Brown, author of The Protector series and Charmaine Clancy, author of My Zombie Dog and Dognapped. Stop by their blogs to say hi!
As part of the festivites, I'm featuring a review I wrote for Charmaine's latest: Dognapped. Read on to hear my thoughts.
What is the premise, you ask? 12 year-old Kitty Walker is a typical girl trying to find her way in a new town. Upon first arriving, her only friend is her miniature schnauzer, Spade (and maybe her little brother Matty, when he's not too busy bugging her). At her mother's urging she decides to enter Spade in a dog show and learn how to be a junior handler. It's here that a lost dog who is terribly ill leads Kitty nose-first into the biggest mystery of her burgeoning sleuth career.
This book was filled with fun, mystery, humor, thrill and heart and kept my interest easily engaged throughout. The language is easy enough that most school-aged children will find it an easy read and yet there were a number of passages where Charmaine demonstrates her ability to turn a phrase. There's a ton of subtle nuances that flesh out the characters we see and she manages to make the settings feel just as real. I don't read a lot of children's books but I get the feeling that subtle little highlights like that aren't the norm.
The real heart of this story, of course, is Kitty. Charmaine captured her voice perfectly. I was a 12 year-old girl once upon a time and I remember what it felt like to be jealous of my mother's work which kept her away from me or of my brother who stole all the attention. I remember my dad who managed to massively embarrass me without even trying and the way that adults treated me when they thought I had no idea what I was talking about. I remember that perfect girl in school who seemed to have everything and that boy who I secretly had a crush on. And I remember loving my dog more than anything else in the world and often feeling like my furry friend was the only one who really understood me.
Every emotion, thought, observation and question is spot-on and I can imagine a whole host of young girls relating to Kitty in an intimate way. This book will be a favorite in many a young library, I have no doubt.
It's also a great starter-novel for your mystery fans. Kitty follows in the footstep of the greats with her note-taking, keen observational skills and intrinsic need to question everything. And this story has it all- theft, mistaken identity, random notes, misdirection and plots to conceal the truth and even murder. While the action is thrilling it's not scary and I think younger kids will be just as safe reading this as older tweens.
All-in-all, I'd recommend it to a large audience because everyone can easily find something to love in here.