Title: The Underdogs
Author: Tracey West
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st May 2021
Synopsis: Welcome to the town of Barksdale, where the canine residents strive for perfection. Every shopkeeper claims to be the ‘best groomer’ or sell the ‘best biscuits.’ And at Barksdale Academy, the pressure is on every year for one pup to be named Best in Show. Nova, Duke, Harley, and Peanut have never won Best in Show…which is okay with them! But they have to work together to pass their Agility Exam, because either the whole pack passes or the whole pack fails. Will the pups make the grade, or are they doomed to be Underdogs forever?
Best-selling author of the Branches series, Dragon Masters, has started a new series. The Underdogs introduces a group of pups who are trying to pass exams to reach their K-9 levels. Nova, the lead pup, and her friends, are constantly training to reach their goal. Yet the Best of Barksdale don’t think they can do it, and Nova feels inadequate – all of her sisters have won trophies for being the best in certain categories – so Nova is determined to show she can do it.
This charming new series is for everyone who has every felt they can’t do something. It explores themes of friendship and peer pressure, and the desire to do well because society demands that we do. It allows the characters to grow, and to explore their flaws and how they can use their talents to get through the tests that they face at school. I can envisage that this series will tackle each K-9 test in each book and will hopefully allow the characters to grow over the series. It will also help kids build on their vocabulary, which is always a good thing.
Starting a new series is always fun, and seeing the characters established will ensure that they grow over the course of the series, with new and inventive stories that capture the imagination of readers. Aimed at readers aged eight and older, so junior to middle grade readers, and is the perfect combination of text and images for readers embarking on the next step of their reading journey and their reading confidence. This book is lots of fun, and it was a joy to read. A perfect next step for middle grade readers. I loved this fun novel, and can’t wait to see what happens next with the Underdogs!
Another great start to a series, and a fun book filled with joyful animal characters.