Amy, left alone while her friends travel or are otherwise occupied during break, solves a mystery in this series opener.
Amy whiles away her time helping with her mother’s veterinary practice. She misses her friends but looks forward to their next sleepover when everyone returns. When she’s not busy, she dives into her newest Nancy Drew book. When her mother’s wealthiest client’s puppy, Rufus, goes missing, it’s time for Amy to use what she has learned from Nancy Drew to find the little Saint Bernard. When she does, the millionaire client generously plans to start a local shelter, at which the four friends can volunteer, opening the door for further adventures of the Critter Club. A mystery for emerging chapter-book readers has to provide easy-to-see clues, and this one does, enabling readers to solve the mystery right along with Amy. At times, the narrative is a bit too obvious: There is probably no need to have a full paragraph explaining the purpose of a vet’s office nor descriptions of the girls’ physical characteristics, given that each page is illustrated.
With four likable, diverse characters and the surefire appeal of cute puppies and other pets, the Critter Club is off to a promising start. (Mystery. 5-7)