4 out of 4 stars
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Picture Perfect by D. G. Stern is a middle-grade adventure novel about a family that solves crimes and mysteries. The Charles family comprises of a father, a mother, a set of twins, a cat, and a dog. The story is written from the point of view of Upton Charles, the dog. There are twenty-seven short chapters in the book. Each chapter begins with a black and white illustration. The illustrations were done by Deborah Allison. Upton Charles and his owner’s walk is interrupted by a fire incident in a neighbor’s house. This disrupts their lunch plans as well as their itinerary for the day. The damage to the neighbor’s house and property is minimal but appears to have been intentionally induced. The clues do not add up, and the Charles’ family work together to solve the mystery.
I liked reading the story from the unusual point of view of the dog Upton Charles. Upton is a likeable, witty character. Upton’s introduction of the rest of the family at the beginning of the book was entertaining. His description of the twins and their frequent fights was hilarious. Most parents and children can relate to the fights associated with sibling rivalry. The antics he uses to pass on information to his “father” made me laugh a lot especially the part in which he uses sneezing to suggest that he would like some food. This humor is age-appropriate as children also use different methods to indicate their needs to their parents.
The book will appeal to children and animal lovers. The fact that a cat was included in the “spy” family will make it appealing to both dog and cat lovers. It highlights the possibility of increased and productive interaction between pets and their owners.
I loved the use of character humor and wit in the story. It is entertaining and teaches children the importance of teamwork, deductive reasoning and logic. It would make a great holiday book to read by the beach. It reminded me of a book I have reviewed titled “The Diary of a Snoopy cat” by R. F. Kristi in which the detective was the snoopy cat.
The writing is smooth, and the story flows effortlessly. The vocabulary is appropriate for children aged 7 and above. The black and white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter can be painted by readers as added fun. I found no grammatical errors, so I think it was professionally edited. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, and I heartily recommend it to children aged 7 and above as well as young adults. It is the type of book one can read several times without getting tired. It is a useful addition to family and school libraries.
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