Having spent the best part of my childhood with Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and the Scooby bunch, you might be mistaken for thinking that I am a bit of a mystery buff. I’m not. In fact I tend to avoid them nowadays. However, my memories of mystery (Trixie Belden in particular), is of familiar characters in domestic settings with a dash of sleuthing thrown in for good measure. I don’t recall it being the mystery that I liked; rather the relationship I developed with the characters (and the fact that there were so many adventures to companion them on). My impression is that this is what E.J. Gore has hoped to achieve with her Taya Bayliss series, and on this account she is successful.
Taya Bayliss is an eleven-year-old girl, who along with her friend Chris and loyal hound Minette, can’t help but investigate the recent robberies at the local nursing home and surrounding shops. Engaging typical snooping tactics and a little harmless deception, they manage to follow the clues and catch the crook singlehandedly. I don’t usually reveal the endings of stories in my reviews, although in this instance I will, since as a mystery no one would expect otherwise.
As a Middle Grade chapter book Taya Bayliss: Dog Sitter, is appropriate for the middle years of primary school (grades 2-4). It is cleanly written and edited carefully, making it accessible to all students. However, for me its language lacked sparkle; something that I feel is mandatory for any story I share with a class. As a text to be read independently, perhaps as part of a reading program, Gore’s story (and series) fits the job. My greatest concern is that it will be overlooked by students who will be deterred by its 1970’s style cover in preference for something a little savvier. Taya Bayliss: Dog Sitter, is a little clichéd and a little too predictable for my liking; but then again it is simply being exactly what it purports to be, a mystery following in the tradition of children’s mysteries.
Reviewed by Tanya Grech Welden
**The author provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have otherwise not been paid for reviewing this book and my opinions reflect my own unbiased opinion.**
***Purchase this title and other books in the Taya Bayliss series here.***