cover image Amy and the Missing Puppy

Amy and the Missing Puppy

Callie Barkley, illus. by Marsha Riti. S&S/Little Simon, $14.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5769-0

Themes of friendship and the love of animals pair comfortably in the leadoff title of the Critter Club series. When elementary-schooler Amy’s three best friends disperse for spring break, Amy delves into her new Nancy Drew book while working the front desk at her mother’s veterinary clinic. Inspired by Nancy’s clue gathering, Amy hones her own sleuthing skills when one of her mother’s patients, a Saint Bernard puppy, disappears. The mystery is light—a trail of fresh paw prints makes it obvious the dog hasn’t wandered far—but Amy’s plan to retrieve the runaway pup reveals sharp thinking. The puppy’s grateful owner recruits Amy and her friends to help her open an animal shelter in her barn, which they name the Critter Club, setting the stage for future escapades. Despite a few clichés (“Light bulbs went off in her head”), Barkley’s writing is crisp, with punchy dialogue, concise sentences, and a swift pace. Large type and ample artwork make this a fine fit for beginning readers. Final art not seen by PW. Simultaneously available: All About Ellie. Ages 5–7. Illustrator’s agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Prospect Agency. (Jan.)