Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts
written by Lesley Gibbes; illustrated by Stephen Michael King
2017 (Kane Miller Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
"I'm all grown up and ready to find a job." Fizz knew exactly what job he wanted.
What dog breed do you think of when you hear the words "police dog?" German Shepard? Doberman? Bolognese? That screeching you hear is your brain putting on the brakes. First, you look up Bolognese because you don't know what it is unless you are a dog aficionado. Then, you chuckle because you see a picture of a small dog with curly hair. I love Vet Street's description which is it looks "like a fairy tale dog fallen ever so slightly on hard times." But Fizz is a little dog with a big heart. He doesn't want to be a champion show dog like his dad. Or a purse passenger for the famous like his sister Crystal. He wants to be a police dog. Fizz dreams of saving the day. Thanks to a kindly groundskeeper, Fizz learns about a tryout at the Sunnyvale Police Station for the position of police dog. He arrives the next day to find himself amidst a bevy of burly barking beasts. Undaunted, Fizz is ready to take on the three challenges of the tryout. Being rudely dismissed by a harassing hound named Amadeus, Fizz still manages a high screeching bark which passes him on to the next round. With less than half of the field remaining, the dogs face the second challenge which is to look scary. Fizz manages to resemble a rabid pufferfish which throws fear into every dog and passes him on to the last challenge. Ten dogs must try their best to capture a fleet footed burglar. The first eight dogs fail, so the winner comes down to Fizz and the brutish Amadeus. Will our plucky hero pull one of the greatest upsets in the history of dogkind? The ending is not what you expect.
Young readers will love this spunky underdog as he chases his dream. As a child in a world of challenges, you imagine yourself triumphing over them. That's why this storyline works so well with children. The text fits nicely in the early chapter book genre. It moves quickly with very little fluff so you're constantly turning pages in anticipation. I think Fizz will work well in a lesson on story structure. You have engaging characters (heroes and villains) with an interesting plot that comes with a surprising twist at the end. Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts is the first of four books in the series which means you will quadruple your reading volume as students will want to follow his adventures. This ball of fur is a ball of fun.