When I came home from the hospital after giving birth to Max, a box was waiting for me from Albert Whitman & Company, a box containing the five books that comprise The Buddy Files mystery books by Dori Hillestad Butler and intended for independent readers. (The first book in the series, The Case of the Lost Boy was the Winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.)It's taken me longer than usual to read them and get this review up (somehow, the new baby doesn't yet understand Mama's need to read and review books), but here we go.
Book One, The Case of the Lost Boy, sets the tone for the rest of the series. King is a dog ("also a detective," he tells us) who makes his home in Four Lakes, Minnesota, with his person Kayla and her father. Kayla's mother is in the National Guard. When Kayla and her father disappear, Kayla's Uncle Marty takes King to the P-O-U-N-D (dogs never say that ugly word, just spell it). Before long, King is adopted by a new family, Connor and his mom. Of course, they don't know his name, and so rename him "Buddy."
King/Buddy is excited to discover that Connor and his mom live in the house just behind Kayla's and is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to Kayla and her father. He decides to ask the other dogs in the neighborhood and to launch an investigation but, before he gets very far, Connor disappears, too! Determined not to be sent back to the P-O-U-N-D, Buddy launches a new investigation. He enlists the help of his friend, Mouse (a very large dog), and The Cat With No Name and starts to sniff out clues. Before long, he has some leads but discovers thay none of the clues he has collected will do any good if he can't get Mom and the Police to understand him. How will he make them hear what he knows?
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy is full of humor, suspense and a lovable main character. (I love the way he names people based on traits they exhibit, ex: Jelly Donut.) I found myself more interested than I thought I'd be in finding out what had happened to Connor. Once that mystery was resolved, I wanted to know more about Kayla and her dad. Why did they leave such a great dog? Where did they go? Does Kayla miss him? While that isn't revealed at the end of book one, the stage has been set for an ongoing search.
The rest of the books in the series - The Case of the Mixed-Up Mutts, The Case of th Fire Alarm, The Case of the Missing Family, and The Case of the Library Monster - maintain the same engaging tone throughout. When Buddy/King finally learns what happened to Kayla and her Dad in The Case of the Missing Family, he has to struggle with how to deal with having two families now. And by the fifth book, he has a new job as a school therapy dog (but still remains a detective).
I was excited to get these books because I love writing reviews and this was the first time I was sent copies by a publisher but, in all honesty, I didn't expect to enjoy them so much; I'm not a big mystery fan. I thought I'd read them, whip out a review, and pass them on to my nephew. I was pleasantly suprised to discover they are just the kind of books I would recommend to a kid who was finally reading chapter books independently. They hold appeal for boys as well as girls, which is another huge plus.
I wholeheartedly recommend these books to kids who are reading independently. They would also make fantastic books to read aloud in the classroom or snuggled up on the couch with your favorite little person. In fact, I plan to place these books right on Max's bookshelf so we can read them together - just as soon as he stops napping and eating all the time!
disclaimer: The Buddy Files series of books was sent to me by Albert Whitman & Company to review for this blog. I read all the books and all opinions expressed here are my own.