cover image News for Dogs

News for Dogs

Lois Duncan, . . Scholastic, $16.99 (217pp) ISBN 978-0-545-10853-9

The sibling stars of Hotel for Dogs embark on a tamer adventure in this disappointing companion novel, arriving nearly 40 years after its predecessor. When Bruce, Andi and two friends publish a newspaper for dog owners, the business takes off. Profits multiply when the kids move the paper online, enabling Bruce to buy the dog of his dreams, but the threat of a lawsuit (one man is livid when exposed for neglecting to scoop poop) shuts them down. The story switches gears as local pets, including Bruce’s dog, begin disappearing, and the kids, aided by their detective great-aunt, vow to catch the dognappers. Readers will quickly pick up the scent of the villains—an Eddie Haskell–like bully and his equally unctuous cousin—which derails the tale’s suspense. Dog devotees will appreciate occasional animal antics (one pet dines in a high chair). But overdoses of staid prose (“Bruce was an honorable boy, and when he made a promise he kept it”) and dated dialogue (“ 'What a horrid thing for those boys to do!’ Andi cried angrily”) make for a sluggish read. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)