Tuesday, March 02, 2010

News Hounds! News for Dogs by Lois Duncan

"Get away from the window," Bruce said. "I'm going to try to get a picture of the dognapping."

He barely had time to step into place before it happened. One moment Lola was lolling on a beach towel in the shade of a striped umbrella, and an instant later she was gone.

"I got it!" Bruce cried. "I caught the dognappers in the act."

Bruce and younger sister Andi have a good thing going. Andi's idea to publish a local newspaper, The Bow Wow News, for dogs and dog owners is a hit. Andi's writing, Debbie's newshound reporting, Tim's desktop publishing skills, and Bruce's photographs are a winning combination, and with the fifty cents per copy they are earning, Bruce feels sure that his share will soon cover what he stills owes his abusive neighbor Jerry for his dog Red Rover.

But then the dogs featured in their first issues mysteriously begin to disappear from their own well-fenced backyards. Ransom notes soon follow, all asking that the grieving dog owners leave hundreds of dollars inside library novels such as Old Yeller and The Incredible Journey if they want to see their pets again.

Luckily, the kids are temporarily staying with their Aunt Alice, a retired private detective, who is more than eager to freshen her sleuthing skills on this case. Assuming that the kidnappers are selecting their victims from the pampered pets featured in The Dog News, she persuades the reluctant Andi to shave her shaggy pet Friday into a close imitation of an exotic hairless crested Chinese dog, whom Andi rechristens Lola. Aunt Alice, well known to be allergic to dogs, exults in a planted Bow Wow News interview that she is ecstatic to have realized her lifelong dream of dog ownership with a non-allergenic dog bought on e-Bay. Then, with decoy dog Lola complete with tracking collar as bait, the trap is set for the suspected Jerry and his con man cousin Connor, and the sleuth team sits back and waits for the perps to pick up little Lola. And the chase is on!

Published almost simultaneously with the hit movie based on Lois Duncan's earlier Hotel For Dogs, her sequel News For Dogs (Scholastic, 2009) brings the familiar characters together again in a humorous and fast-paced mystery which elementary readers will find just doggone good fun.

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