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Amy and the Missing Puppy: 02/09/16
Amy and the Missing Puppy by Callie Barkley is the start of the Critter Club series of beginning chapter books. It's spring break and Amy's distraught that she'll have a week without her best friends. She reluctantly agrees to work at her mother's veterinary clinic. When a mean lady's dog goes missing, Amy puts her Nancy Drew skills to work to find the puppy.
Series starters have a tough job, and that' made even more difficult for a book that's only 128 pages with a rather limited vocabulary. The goal of this first book is to establish the characters: Amy, her mother, and Amy's friends, and the setting: the clinic, the critter club (a homeless animal shelter Amy starts with her reward money), and Santa Vista, the town where all this takes place.
I think my initial reaction is to how obvious the set up is. To keep things moving, Amy is prone to being over emotional or ridiculously unobservant (when at other times she's a self-styled Nancy Drew). However, for early readers who are transitioning into longer books, these details won't be as glaring. Instead they will serve as a roadmap to understanding how mysteries work.