King is renamed Buddy by the family that takes him out of the pound. While the dog is glad to be out of that place, he’s not pleased about this adoption. First, the whole thing is backwards from his point of view. The dog is supposed to pick the family and not the other way around. Second, he already has a family. Mom is serving overseas. Kayla and Dad went to visit Grandma and then never came back. Buddy spent time at a kennel and then an uncle’s before landing in the pound where the new mom and her son Connor found him.
Buddy’s determined to figure out what happened to his first family. Kayla loved solving mysteries and made Buddy help her, so he’s making lists of what he knows and doesn’t know. He thinks he has a real chance of solving it when it turns out the new family lives in the same neighborhood that Kayla’s family did. Buddy can’t pass up the chance to scope out his old yard when he’s out on his first walk with Connor. Buddy’s investigation gets put aside when Connor vanishes. Buddy puts himself on the case of the lost boy, but he’s being roadblocked by scents that disappear in the middle of the street and humans that can’t understand what he’s trying to tell them.
This mystery will appeal most to those readers just entering chapter books. It is an eager, sort of bumbling mystery in that Buddy is not a super observant detective. He needs the help of others, including a cat, to solve the case. In a read aloud setting, children will have fun with some of Buddy’s repeated mannerisms, such as his love of every kind of food or how he has to spell out pound rather than using the word. This would be a good book to put in the hands of children who cannot get enough animal stories. Many will be able to relate to Connor’s problems with his parents’ recent split.