Two Chihuahuas engage the animals of Bald Head Island, N.C., in a plan to stop illegal turtle-egg traffickers in this playful debut children’s adventure book aimed at dog lovers and budding environmental advocates.
Pampered, curious pups Bennett and Lola join their owner Cora as she retreats to a beach house to write a book about the animals and plants on Bald Head Island. Soon a charismatic mockingbird Moc urges the dogs to see the wonders of the neighborhood: a mean dog named Jug (short for Jugular), intriguing but dangerous alligators, and a big loggerhead turtle mama who lays her eggs on the beach. When the eggs are stolen, the pups take on alternate identities—Chief Inspector Brown and Sergeant Starfoot—and collect a team of animals to follow the egg poachers and alert the local Bald Head Island Conservancy people. Later, the pups must find their way back to Cora after being washed into the ocean and stranded on a beach far from home. The story has no human children as characters—a bit odd for a book targeted to kids—but Bennett’s protective big-sibling relationship with the excitable, recklessly brave Lola shows how sibling rivalry can be superseded by love when it matters most. The story, set in a real location and supported by accurate Conservancy information, can act as an environmental teaching resource, but it also delivers a typical kids’ mystery. The book’s strategically placed advanced vocabulary, understandable in context, makes it a great choice for beginning readers. Its adorable but not cutesy tone and the wittily distinctive voices of its animal characters make it a good candidate for dog-loving parents and children to read together. Energetic illustrations support the story well, though they are forced into quarter-pages, and might have been better served by full-page display.
A charming talking-animal tale, with gentle messages about family and the environment.