Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Children's Book Review: 'Barnaby the Bedbug Detective' by Catherine Stier

Barnaby the Bedbug Detective
by Catherine Stier
illustrated by Karen Sapp
Albert Whitman & Company, 2013

Barnaby is a small dog in an animal shelter who dreams of being a superhero. He is too energetic and enthusiastic for most families with children, but he's just right for Martha. She promises Barnaby a good home and perhaps, even a special job.

After they get to know each other for a while, Martha takes Barnaby to "bedbug sniffing school." He has a good nose, and is rewarded with a squeaky toy every time he learns to correctly identify "a certain tangy scent."

Barnaby is one of the best students in his class, and after he graduates from canine training, he begins to accompany Martha to hotels and movie theaters, dormitories and airplanes, searching for the bedbug smell. One day they are called on to help a family with young children identify what has been causing the itchy bumps that have been appearing on their skin, and Barnaby sees the opportunity to become the hero he's always wanted to be.

Catherine Stier manages to create an engaging children's story out of an unusual topic for children's books. She weaves factual information with a sense of adventure, and Karen Sapp's illustrations depict some interesting dog training methods that would be difficult to explain with words alone.

An afterword and the endpapers provide more factual information about bedbugs (which are, apparently, on the rise, due to the chemicals that were once used to control them being banned), additional resources, and tips for keeping bedbugs out of your home.

Catherine Stier's award-winning books include If I Were President, If I Ran for President, and Bugs in My Hair?! She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her family. Please visit her at catherinestier.com.

Karen Sapp received her degree in illustration from Kingston University in London and now works as a freelance illustrator in her hometown of Crawley, England. Her favorite characters are animals, which she paints with her distinctive application of acrylics.
Renée Vaillancourt McGrath has worked at Montana Public Radio as a program host since 2002. Her background is in librarianship and she currently works as a freelance editor, blogger, and website developer. Check out more of her book reviews at reneesreads.com.

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