________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 1 . . . . September 7, 2001

cover A Weekend at the Grand Hotel. (Sam, Dog Detective).

Mary Labatt.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2001.
104 pp., pbk. & cl., $4.95 (pbk,), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55074-885-8 (pbk). ISBN 1-55074-883-1 (cl.).

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Kristin Butcher.

*** /4


Fascinated, Jennie, Beth and Sam wandered through the lobby. Let's sit here. Sam stopped in front of a huge silk sofa and started to climb up. Jennie reached over and pulled on the leash. "You have to sit on the floor, Sam!"

The hair over Sam's eyes lifted in surprise. You've got to be kidding.

Jennie shook her head. "I'm not kidding! If you sit on the couch, they'll kick us out."

Sam looked around. -Rich people are so selfish. All I want to do is sit like a normal person-.

"You're not a person. You're a dog."

Take one nosy sheepdog and two imaginative girls, set them loose in a posh hotel for a weekend, and you have the makings of a whole lot of trouble.

     Sam is a dog - sort of. She looks like a dog, but deep down - okay, maybe not so deep - she is a detective in dog's clothing. Sam smells espionage and mystery even when there is none, and she has the uncanny ability of convincing her young friends that she is on the trail of a crime - again.

     A Weekend at the Grand Hotel, the latest in Mary Labatt's "Sam, Dog Detective" series for early readers, is a light, fast-paced comedy of errors. Sam is a dog with a definite attitude. She also has a penchant for "people food" and adventure and, most importantly, she shares a sort of ESP with Jennie, the girl who lives next door. Jennie is able to hear Sam's thoughts, and, as a result, she and her friend, Beth, know exactly what Sam is thinking and follow her through the hotel as she tracks down spies who are trying to steal nuclear secrets. One catastrophe follows another until the three detectives find themselves in hot water up to their eyeballs.

     Just over 100 pages, this is an easy-to-read book. Except for a small captioned drawing of Sam at the beginning of each chapter, there are no illustrations, but the font size, content, sentence structure, and vocabulary make it an accessible story for budding readers.


Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria and writes for children.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364