cover image Deputy Shep

Deputy Shep

Mary Stolz. HarperCollins Publishers, $12.95 (91pp) ISBN 978-0-06-026039-2

Canoville is a sleepy little town whose inhabitants (Phil English, Enoch Peke, Fred Dober) are all dogs. There is a thief on the loose, however, and it's up to Deputy Shep to catch him. With this shallow, unsurprising story, Newbery Honor author Stolz ( Storm in the Night ; the Barkham Street trilogy) falls below her customary standards. Stereotyped by breed, the cast presents an unsavory microcosm of society for young readers. The only female character of note is a French poodle named Madame Colette who, true to the cliche, sends the hormone levels of the male dogs soaring. In a weak--and predictable--plot turn, the culprit turns out to be a pack rat. While the humor implicit in ascribing human personality traits to various breeds (Pete Bassett is ``a good natured fellow . . . who never seemed to get a job actually finished'') may appeal to adult dog fanciers, the targeted audience will find this mystery unrewarding. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)