Dog Squad

Random. (Dog Squad: Bk. 1). May 2021. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593301739.
Gr 4-6–Grabenstein’s hilarious series starter begs readers to explore what it means to be a hero. Presented in third person, the story chronicles a dog’s journey from famine to fame. Left behind by his owners, Fred must fend for himself. Along the way, he encounters breeds kind and cruel at a city shelter, a Broadway performance, and Second Chance Ranch, where Jenny and Abby train strays to become stars for the popular Dog Squad television series featuring famous canine idols Duke, Nala, and Scruffy. As a mixed-breed dog, Fred faces identity challenges. He looks exactly like the real Duke in the show, but he thinks he’s just an average pup. When Fred finally meets the real Duke, he reconsiders his assumptions. Rendered in tight, snappy prose, each chapter builds a narrative arc that leaves readers wondering what will happen next. The tone is humorous, and characters are similar to the kids whom readers might encounter. Laced with positive messages but never preachy, this allegorical, fast-paced, rollicking adventure will appeal to all readers.
VERDICT Through expertly paced conflict and characterization, this canine adventure shows what it means to be brave.

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