Dog Show Detective, by Penelope Love

‘No. I can’t go to Aunt Wilma’s Now, Mum. My favourite program is just starting.’
‘The Secret Life of Newts.’ Mum read the title on the TV.
‘It’s , um, educational,’ I said. Actually it was just too much effort to reach for the remote control. And Celebrity Dogs didn’t start for another half-hour.
‘But, Tiff -’ Mum started.’
‘No!’ I said. I could feel a Glare Force 1 boring into the back of my head. Mum works at a retirement home. I don’t know what kind of look she gives those old folks when they don’t eat their vegies but right then I could almost feel my skin withering. Had there been broccoli in front of me I would have chomped it right down in a hurry.

Tiff is a small, lively redhead – just like her Aunt Wilma’s dog Muffin. When newly-separated Aunt Wilma hurts her ankle, Mum persuades Tiff to help out. First it’s just walking Muffin. Tiff doesn’t mind because she really likes Muffin and it’s not Muffin’s fault that Aunt Wilma is so snooty. A stranger starts taking photos of Muffin but drives off when Tiff approaches him. When Tiff and Muffin get back to Aunt Wilma’s, it becomes clear that Mum has also volunteered Tiff to help at the dog show. There goes her holiday plans! Once there, Tiff realises someone is trying to sabotage the dogs at the dog show and it’s up to her to work it out.

Redheads are reputed to be feisty and fearsome. Thirteen year-old Tiff certainly fills this description although tenacious and forthright also fit. Her holiday plans are overturned by her aunt’s injury but she finds a way to enjoy the show with her friends as well as helping out. Across the course of Dog Show Detective, Tiff adjusts many of her relationships, particularly with her aunt, father and brother. She enters the unfamiliar dog show world and discovers that, unlike its reputation, most of the dog owners are friendly and supportive of each other. Red herrings and misunderstandings contribute to the humour of Tiff’s story, until she ultimately saves the day. Dog Show Detective’ also touches on friendships, examining the changing relationships with two school friends. Recommended for upper primary readers.

Dog Show Detective, by Penelope Love
Lothian Children’s Books 2007