Hero Dog!

with Matthew Lysiak. Hero Dog! illus. by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. 96p. (Hilde Cracks the Case: Bk. 1). Scholastic/Branches. Oct. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781338141566; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781338141559.
Gr 1–3—The Annual Bake-Off Bonanza is ready to commence, but desserts are disappearing! Mrs. Hooper's cupcakes were stolen from her kitchen table, Mr. Macintosh's fresh eggs for his cheesecake were nabbed, and Mrs. Taggert's cherry crumb pie was swiped as it cooled on the windowsill. Could the thief be one of the contestants vying for first prize, a mischievous teenager, or the neighborhood dog with a sweet tooth? The case will not remain unsolved for long when Orange Street News investigator, nine-year-old Hilde, catches wind of the story. Inspired by the real Hilde Lysiak who started her own newspaper and does plenty of sleuthing herself, this mystery series is sure to win over readers diving into beginning chapter books. Like other titles in the "Branches" line, pictures and text work together to tell the story. Fast-paced action helps maintain budding readers' attention. Pages from Hilde's notebook introduce new vocabulary and model questioning. The right amount of support and repetition is given for students transitioning into a more independent phase of reading, and many will find themselves working to solve the mystery alongside the protagonist. Teachers will appreciate using this series to teach questioning words. However, those looking for a beginning chapter book series featuring a more diverse cast of characters may want to consider the "Lark Ba Detective" series.
VERDICT A solid addition to most chapter book collections, especially where there are mystery fans.

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