My Dog Is Better Than Your Dog (Crimebiters, #1)


Jimmy's is anything but calm in the days leading up to 5th grade. His mother is busy at work, his father finally has some interviews for jobs, he has a funny blotch on his face, and his father finally agrees to let him have a dog! They pick out a quiet, well behaved dog at the rescue center. Jimmy wants to name the dog "Happy", but his dad hears "Abby". Good enough. Abby does fairly well but runs afoul of Mrs. Cragg, the new babysitter hired since Jimmy's dad is busy with interviews and older sister Misty is too busy as well. Jimmy and his best friend Irwin start to notice some strange things about the new dog. Abby doesn't like sun, sleeps all day and has enormous fangs. Is it possible that she's a vampire, like the character in Jimmy's favorite books? When school starts, Jimmy is still concerned about the blotch on his face, and the other kids give him a bit of a hard time, with the exception of Daisy, a new neighbor of Jimmy's who is cute, nice, AND stands up to bully Baxter Bratford. When things get weird with Mrs. Cragg, Abby's abilities are even more apparent, and when things get bad, her skills help save Jimmy and his friends.

Greenwald has done great middle school books like Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading, and always puts together a nice ensemble cast with a touch of romance. Jimmy is a well-defined character with very specific interests (television cop shows, vampires), and he assigns these qualities to his dog in an interesting way. Irwin is a good sidekick, alternately being brave when Jimmy is scared, but wary when Jimmy is a bit too head strong. Daisy is delightfully no-nonsense, and I like that she becomes friends with Jimmy at first because she feels sorry for him, but later is glad they are friends because she enjoys being around him. Even Baxter, whose bullying is a bit too stereotypical for my taste, is brought into the group in a way that makes sense.

It's difficult to come up with mysteries for younger students to solve, and the theft ring is portrayed fairly realistically, with a ring leader who is frighteningly violent but ultimately harmless. This adds a bit of spice to a story that otherwise would be reminiscent of Encyclopedia Brown, if Encyclopedia were watching too much television! I appreciated that the parents were kept out of the way of interfering with the mystery by being busy at work, and not by being killed off!

Dog stories are plentiful for elementary readers, and this is a nice change from more standard stories. I might be proven wrong in future books in the series, but I am not convinced that Abby is actually a vampire. Of course, is she is, what would happen if she met Bunnicula, the vampire bunny? It's a rare series that leaves me guessing about the direction the next book will take, so I'll be watching to see what Abby and Jimmy get up to next!

978-0545773324 Ages 8-12 208 pages (with illustrations)

Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Librarian, Ohio USA

See more of her recommendations:


Tommy Greenwald, whose debut novel Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to (Not) Reading launched itself into the the top three most circulated and stolen books in my library, has penned a new series aimed at slightly younger audience. Crime show/ crime novel enthusiast Jimmy Bishop is eleven, a bit of a loner with one friend, a new crush and very busy parents. His stay-at-home dad is interviewing for a job he really wants and promises Jimmy a dog out of guilt for sticking Jimmy with a babysitter. On the way to the shelter, Jimmy's dad puts so many stipulations on the type of dog that he's afraid there won't be a dog that meets them. Luckily for Jimmy, they find Abby, who is sequestered in the dark and very, very sleepy. Jimmy starts to wonder if his dog is a vampire. Greenwald nails sibling dialogue and the friction between best friends and keeps the action fast and the humor high. Frequent humorous, cartoonish spot art complement the story .

Recommended by: Brenda Kahn, Librarian, New Jersey USA

See more of her recommendations:

Other titles in the series: It's a Doggy Dog World

User reviews

Have you read this book? We'd love to hear what you think. Click the button below to write your own review!
Already have an account? or Create an account