The author of The Buddy Files whips up a light mystery fare for the younger set.


From the King & Kayla series , Vol. 1

In a brand-new series a girl and a dog are detectives, finding mysteries in everyday events.

King is a dog (a golden retriever), and Kayla is his human (a brown-skinned gal with springy brown hair). Through King’s narration, readers get a glimpse of a dog’s innermost thoughts—which mostly revolve around food and not going outside (a common mistake made by humans). Kayla’s inability to understand King’s dialogue, rendered in perfect English both within the text and in thought bubbles, is a running joke in the series. In their first book, Kayla prepares King’s favorite snack, peanut-butter treats. But alas, they are not for him! They are for her friend’s new puppy, Thor. When some of the treats go missing, King seems to be the prime suspect. But his nose has picked up the scent of an intruder. How can he convey this to Kayla? In true detective fashion, Kayla makes a list of known and unknown facts. In the second book, published simultaneously, King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code (2017), Kayla again employs this strategy to solve the crime. Readers will connect with this charmingly misunderstood pup (along with his exasperated howls, excited tail wagging, and sheepish grins).

The author of The Buddy Files whips up a light mystery fare for the younger set. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56145-877-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A good friend can change your life.

Duck loves settling down with a hot beverage when he reads, but that’s the only liquid for him—he doesn’t like getting wet. As a result, he dresses in a yellow rain slicker constantly and spends rainy days inside with the shutters drawn. This solitary existence continues until one night when a particularly bad storm creates a hole in Duck’s roof. When he sets out to investigate repairing it, he comes face to face with a lost frog on his doorstep. Even though Frog loves the water, the two develop a friendship through a shared love of reading. Frog eventually finds his way home, but the two have bonded, and Duck invites Frog to join him as a new roommate. Although the story’s soft cartoon illustrations are amusing—Duck peddling his bicycle in his slicker, boots, and sou’wester will elicit smiles—they can’t save the superficial message of the story. Duck’s phobia is never directly addressed, but once Frog moves in permanently, the rain slicker vanishes, so there’s a bit of a visual resolution. Books addressing new friendships are always needed, but the characters need to be developed to attract and inspire readers. This pale imitation of Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found (2006) doesn’t have the depth needed to carry the message. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-15.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Damp. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8917-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Children will likely long to see a dog in their own schools as they decode their ways to reading success.


A curious beagle who gets loose in school sees all sorts of new things in this early-reader tale that has faint echoes of “The Gingerbread Man.”

When Bobby forgets his lunch in the hustle and bustle that is the family’s morning, his mom and Lucy deliver it to his school. But the little pup’s wriggles set her free to explore the school, allowing her to meet lots of familiar school faces: some students, the lunch lady, the custodian and, finally, her own boy—Bobby—in his classroom. Each person she meets yells for her to “Stop!” since “Dogs don’t belong in school! Lucy heard her, but she didn’t stop.” By the end, those in pursuit have formed a parade of sorts, though the setup is too long and the chase too short to completely mirror the familiar folk tale. Those who have been in a school will recognize much of what Lucy sees on her adventure, though many are seen from a dog’s (low) point of view. Blank space within the brightly colored pictures holds the medium-font text, which features short sentences in short paragraphs on each page. Full bleed single- and double-page–spread illustrations extend the story but don’t help much with decoding, properly befitting a Step into Reading Level 3 title.

Children will likely long to see a dog in their own schools as they decode their ways to reading success. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-36994-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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