2011 Edgar Allen Poe Awards, and Best Juvenile mystery went to a beginning chapter book. The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy won out over the following middle-grade reads: Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon; The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee; Griff Carver: Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg; and The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters.
I have to admit I was a bit shocked. The other four books are more traditional kinds of mysteries and more typical of past winners. Intrigued, I checked out The Case of the Lost Boy and gave it a read. The story is told in first person from the POV of Buddy, a golden retriever with a big heart. Locked up in the local P-O-U-N-D, Buddy has a mystery to solve. What happened to his family, specifically Kayla, the young girl who trained him to be a detective? When a different family adopts Buddy and brings him back to his old neighborhood, the dog thinks he'll be able to find his original family. That doesn't happen, at least not in the first book of this series. Instead, Buddy finds himself with a new problem. Connor, the nine-year-old boy he lives with, goes missing. Buddy feels responsible and does his doggy best to find the lost boy. Although he has serious liabilities--he can't speak, for one--he manages to lead the boy's mother to her son.
A lot of the fun from this beginning chapter book comes from seeing the world from a dog's perspective. Make that smelling things from a dog's perspective, for Buddy is all nose. The world is made up of all kinds of smells. Connor's mom has shoes that smell like a mixture of "new carpet, pizza, a sweaty gym, other dogs, and mole." Young readers will enjoy following the clues that lead to Connor's safe return, and they'll get a giggle each time Buddy proclaims his favorite food (whichever one he's currently smelling).
Additional titles in the series are: The Case of the Mixed-Up Mutts; The Case of the Missing Family; The Case of the Fire Alarm; and The Case of the Library Monster.
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy
by Dori Hillestad Butler
Albert Whitman, 128 pages
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