Scout is a German Shepherd and one of the brightest canines at Puppy Academy, the school for working dogs. She wants desperately to become a police dog, like her Mum and Dad. Serving the community is important to her; plus, she has a nose for intrigue.
But she’s often misunderstood by her teachers, Major Bones and Professor Offenbach. When sausages start to go missing in her home town, she’s desperate to help find the culprit. But then, things go wrong at school, and people start suspecting her….
Gill Lewis, the writer of the Puppy Academy series, used to be a vet and her love for dogs shows; at the back of Scout and the Sausage Thief is a factfile on German Shepherds, as well as a cute spread on the author’s first dog. With the help of some friendly illustrations by Sarah Horne, Lewis has used canine characters to build a school scenario many human children can relate to. The young pups worry about passing or failing their ‘exams’. They fall out with their friends. The teachers don’t always get the right end of the (doggy) stick, which means the canines sometimes receive a telling-off they don’t deserve.
Scout is hot off the press; it was only released yesterday. It’s the first book in a series, with three other titles (featuring different dogs from the Academy) scheduled for publication over the next few months. I read Scout with my five-year-old son and although the easy language puts it into the ‘beginner chapter book’ category, the ideas are complex enough to keep a young reader stimulated. I imagine it would appeal to most primary school-aged children, up to the age of about 9 or 10. Casting dogs as the main characters helped the book transcend genders, too; my son usually prefers to read books which have boys as the main characters, but he barely seemed to notice that Scout was a girl. Her problems at school were ones that girls and boys could both relate to equally.