A talented dog named Nell uses her acute sense of smell to solve mysteries in her neighborhood, including the complete disappearance of a classroom library.
Rollicking, rhyming text describes Nell’s successes at solving little puzzles and finding missing items for her owner, a 6-year-old boy named Peter. Detective Dog Nell accompanies Peter to school each Monday, where she listens to children read stories from their well-stocked library shelves. One Monday, the books are all missing from the shelves, and the students and teacher are despondent. Nell leads the class of children and their teacher, Mr. Jones, on a search to find the books, which have been stolen by a (nonscary) giant named Ted. Then ever resourceful Nell leads the group to the library, where Ted gets his own library card so he can read books as much as he likes. Donaldson’s pitch-perfect text effectively uses humorous twists and rich vocabulary as well as a fine sense of melodramatic pacing. Bold watercolor-and-pencil illustrations give all the characters distinct personalities and plant funny details to spot in the busy double-page spreads. Some of the townspeople have brown skin, as do two students in Peter’s class; the other characters, including Peter, Ted, and Mr. Jones, seem to be white. A male primary school teacher and a female canine title character are welcome representations countering stereotypes, especially dog protagonists who default to male.
Detective Dog Nell is quite a satisfactory sleuth. Surely she has more cases to solve? (Picture book. 3-7)