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The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie

Detective dog Nell, with her great sense of smell, is a rather remarkable dog! She works very hard from Tuesday to Sunday, finding lost things, like a ball down the toilet, and solving mysteries such as where is the lost shoe by sniffing it out. It's in the shed, actually, and if you look a little more closely you might start to suspect that actually Nell might have had more to do with these lost things and mysteries than she should have! Anyway, those are her busy days, but on Mondays, she goes to school with Peter, and she listens to the children reading her books. She loves all sorts of books, about dinosaurs and princes and dragons and dogs, and she loves the smell of the books. So when she goes to school one Monday and finds that all the books are missing, Detective dog Nell is the one they need to help find all the books.

The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Funny, charming and a delight to read aloud, this is all about the joy of books and a rather remarkable dog!
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 2016
Publisher: MacMillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781509801596

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I do like dogs. I also love books, so this story is a good combination for me. There's always a small worry when I start reading a story written in rhyme that I'm going to have one of those moments where the rhymes don't work, or the rhythm falls to pieces, but of course, in the extremely capable hands of Julia Donaldson, that doesn't happen! The book is actually a delight to read aloud. It has a lovely pace to it and is easy to read. It isn't just that the rhymes work, it's that they're beautifully crafted too. There's a part where we're hearing about Nell's Mondays in school and it says

Sniff, sniff, sniff! Mixed in the air
Were plasticine, custard and newly washed hair,
The crusts in the bins and the coats on the hooks,
But the best smell of all was the smell of the books.

I love the smells she chooses to pick out here, and the thought of all those unwanted crusts sneaked into the bin!

The story itself is well thought out, and when Nell discovers the books are missing it turns into a chase as she races through the town, tracking down the missing books and the thief, with a trail of children and their teacher following her. My favourite part, however, is Nell's solution of what to do when she finds the thief. He isn't a very naughty thief (this is a children's book, after all!) and he had merely wanted to borrow the books. Nell immediately barks for everyone to follow her and she takes them all, thief included, to the local library. In these sad times of closing libraries across the country, I love that Julia Donaldson is adding her support by showing how wonderful libraries are, how you can join for free, and you can borrow the books for free too!

The illustrations support the story throughout, and Nell herself is a delightfully drawn dog. She has a very friendly look about her, energetic and endearing, very expressive but also very realistically like a dog! What I loved most about the pictures, however, was how detailed and interesting they are. There are lots to see on each page, so there's a lot to keep your eyes busy whilst you listen to the story. On the school pages, it's wonderful to look at what all the different children are getting up to, and on the chase, through the town, we sometimes stop the story to take a look at what's going on in the picture. My favourite part in the story also has my favourite picture too - the library! It looks like the most wonderful library in the world really, all golden and bright, full of books and with helpful librarians too. It's a really lovely picture. They are all colourful, full of life and action and energy and sweetness. They compliment the story perfectly.

This is delightful to read, funny and sweet, and perfect for book lovers, and dog lovers, everywhere.

Further reading suggestion: For more Donaldson delights, my personal favourite is not the Gruffalo but this lovely story The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson or you might also enjoy this doggy detective tale The Dog Detectives: Lost in London by Fin Gypsy, Zoa Gypsy and Monika Suska. You might also enjoy Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou! by Julia Donaldson and Karen George.

You can hear Ruth reading the story here.

Booklists.jpg The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie is in the Top Ten Children's Picture Books 2016.

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Buy The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie at


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