Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar: A First Kids Mystery

The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar: A First Kids Mystery
The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar: A First Kids Mystery by Martha Freeman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When First Kids Cammie and Tessa receive a diamond dog collar for the First Dog, Holligan, they know the huge diamonds can't be real? Can they? When one diamond, then the whole collar disappears, the girls think something may be up. Especially when it comes on the heals of the disappearance of a large diamond from the nation that the collar was originally sent from. That's when they put on their detecting hats and search the White House grounds to find out the truth behind Holligan's new collar.

The Case of the Diamond Dog Collar was actually the first book I won through Goodreads' First Reads giveaway program. Since I love books of all shapes and sizes, I was excited to receive it. Originally, I planned on reading it to the boys, but as the holidays got more hectic and Teddy wanted me to start reading The 39 Clues, I decided that it was time to read it on my own.

I wish I hadn't let so much time pass, because I was doing myself a disservice. Being a relatively short chapter book, it was a quick read for me. But it was a read full of humor and surprise. I found the enthusiasm of impulsive fashionista Tessa infectious. I loved the more sensible approach that Cammie had toward the whole thing. Seeing the girls' reaction to their grandmother's budding love affair made me smile. And I loved the fact that it isn't their dad that's the president, but their mom. Seeing the father as the stay-at-home parent (or kind of close to it) was a nice change of pace for most of the kids books that I read.

The characters weren't quite as fleshed out as you would have seen in a more adult book, but it didn't bother me too much. Even without the depth that I expect from the longer novels I read, these characters definitely had some depth, character and personality. There are some of the adults that get short-shrift (the girls' parents, their Aunt Jen) but since the story centers around the girls, their dog and their cousin, Nick, they were the ones that should have had more weight to them.

The character that stole the book, though, was Hooligan. I love reading about animals that are big, fun, play-piles. And that's what Hooligan is. He's got a bunch of enthusiasm and love and is the kind of dog I'd love to see running around the White House lawns.

I also enjoyed the inside look at the Private White House. I don't know for certain if that is how life is in the White House, but it's something that I could easily imagine it being. The map that Ms Freeman included at the back of the book, detailing the White House grounds, and the afterword that she included talking about the White House, was a nice bit of educational inclusion that I love to find in books to share with my kids.

All in all, the flaws I found in this book were minor and it's a book that I look forward to sharing with my boys as they get older.

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