Title: KAZU JONES AND THE DENVER DOGNAPPERS
Author: Shauna Holyoak
Pub. Date: April 23, 2019
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Packed with high stakes mystery and tons of heart, this first installment in a new series introduces Kazu Jones-a spunky, scrappy detective who’s this generation’s Harriet the Spy.
When a string of dognappings grips her Denver neighborhood, Kazu Jones vows to track down the culprits. She can’t stand to see more dogs go missing-especially once her neighbors’ beloved pet is taken because of her gigantic mistake.
With the help of her gang-including her best friend and expert hacker, March; and her ginormous, socially anxious pup, Genki-Kazu uncovers evidence that suggests the dognapping ring is bigger than she ever imagined. But the more she digs, the more dangerous her investigation becomes. The dognappers are getting bolder, and Genki could be next.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “In this spirited debut, Holyoak introduces an indefatigable heroine whose distinct voice and loyal canine companion contribute to her considerable appeal. The diverse allies, plot twists, and delightful dogs make this a memorable beginning for Kazu and her friends.”
KIRKUS: “Holyoak creates a well-paced mystery with approachable characters and issues. The dognapping case and the go-get-’em attitude of Kazu provide just enough suspense and action without being too scary. Holyoak sprinkles in topics of growing up, including friendship, relationships with parents, mean people, and telling the truth. A not-too-scary, diverse mystery for those who love action, dogs, and spunky heroines.”
When I was a young girl, I loved the Cam Jansen and Jigsaw Jones series. I always wanted to solve my own mysteries, just like these two characters. Now, I am in college, and my mystery-solving days are over for the most part. This book took me back to the days of sitting in my dad’s giant recliner chair with a pile of chapter books next to me, dreaming of being able to run around town and solve mysteries with my friends. Kazu was such an amazing character, she almost leapt off the page!
Kazu was determined to figure out who was kidnapping dogs from her neighborhood. She has a dog of her own, and one of her classmates dogs was taken, so she knows that she has to act quickly. The only problem is that the police, her parents, and even her friends aren’t really taking her seriously. She has overexaggerated previously about solving a case, and she calls the police on a false alarm at the start of the book, so no one is going to think she is telling the truth once the evidence starts to build up. Soon her parents find out that she is up to her mystery solving shenanigans again, and they try to do everything to stop her. Kazu doesn’t want to make her family sadder, but she knows that the police aren’t taking the dognapping seriously.
My favorite part about this story was seeing how Kazu’s relationship with her mother changed. Kazu and her mother are going through a strange stage where Kazu’s mother still thinks of Kazu as her little girl but Kazu is determined to break out of that shell. They argue a lot in this book, but they love each other in the end. Kazu’s mother has to realize that her daughter is growing into a young woman with her own feelings, and Kazu has to realize that she can’t do everything by herself yet.
My least favorite part about this story was seeing Kazu repeatedly putting herself in danger. Even though I would have loved reading this at 11, even probably cheering Kazu on, I can’t COMPLETELY support this at almost 19. She could have really gotten hurt! As long as your kid knows the difference between real life and fiction, they probably wouldn’t try to copy Kazu. And she does learn her lesson by the end of the story. But if you are worried about your kid trying to sneak around solving mysteries, then maybeeee just have a little convo with them before they read this book. Kazu is an amazingly independent girl, but some scenes I was honestly really scared for her. The suspense was intense!
Overall, this was a very sweet middle grade fiction-mystery novel, and I would recommend it to any middle grade or lower YA reader looking for a fun book about family, friendship, and mystery solving.
I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books
Shauna has been telling stories long before she could ride a bike, and some of them are even true! She writes for kids and teens and thinks it’s kinda the best job ever. Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers is her debut novel, and it will be released on April 23, 2019! She lives in Idaho Falls, ID with her husband, six of their seven children, and two naughty dogs.
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