There was so much to like about H. Y. Hanna’s first Big Honey Dog Mystery, The Curse of the Scarab, that I was quick to push the “request” button on NetGalley when I saw a new special edition Christmas novella, Message in a Bauble.
The story begins with the Great Dane Honey hanging out with all of her friends and their humans, who are decorating the elementary school for the holidays. When the mean-looking custodian comes in with a box of decorations, Honey takes an instant dislike to him. Inside the box she finds a red bauble with a piece of paper inside.
Working with the other dogs, Honey finds what appears to be a desperate plea for help. A child is trapped somewhere, and only the dogs know about it.
The story requires the suspension of disbelief — more than I recall being the case in the first book in the series — aside from the fact that dogs are invited to help decorate a school, there’s the fact that said dogs can not only read but use an encyclopedia. Nonetheless, it’s a cute story and it all turns out well in the end, and I think it would be fun for kids to imagine what dogs would do if they could talk, or read, or solve a mystery.
You may recall that the only thing I didn’t like about the first Big Honey book was that it contained the violent death of a dog. In this case, a dog does take ill, but it survives and in the meantime teaches children that chocolate is toxic to dogs. And so, although it was a bit scary, I can recommend this one for elementary school kids without reservation. If know a child who might like to read a holiday-themed dog mystery on ebook, perhaps on a long drive somewhere for vacation, this would be a good choice.