Review by Booklist Review
A shelter dog chosen to serve as temporary substitute for an injured TV star proves that a noble heart trumps good looks every time. Though he misses his first chance at stardom when Broadway hip-hop musical Washington closes after one night, Fred refuses to throw away his shot to act the heroic lead in Dog Squad while the streaming series' original prima donna, Duke, recovers from a broken leg. Not only is Fred a natural on set, in real life he saves babies and puppies and, in a display of true altruism, sets out to rescue Duke from abusive trainer Big Tony Bomboloni. Aside from that stereotyping gaffe, the human and canine supporting cast is an appealing mix of rivals and sidekicks. In frequent ink-and-fill scenes (not seen in finished form), Hughes depicts the courageous canine (part boxer, part hound, "part who knows what") in action from various dramatic angles. Grabenstein bills his "wags-to-riches" tale as a series kickoff, but notwithstanding a broad hint about the next episode, this stands (all four paws) firmly on its own.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 3--7--Fred, an adorable but neglected mutt, loves action and the TV show Dog Squad, a program in which Duke (the star) and his compadres fight crime and save the day with every episode. Fred is Duke's look-alike and wishes he could be as brave as Duke. When Fred finds himself adopted by the ranch where Duke lives, he couldn't be more excited. When Duke gets hurt, Fred is the talented go-to fill-in for Duke. Can Fred fill Duke's shoes and escape his past? Can he be brave? Narrator Kirby Heyborne's voices and intonations for the dogs unique and vivid and bring the characters to life. His narrative style matches well with the author's writing. The characters are funny, likable, and easy to relate to. The plot is humorous and will appeal to dog lovers everywhere. VERDICT This is the perfect listen for middle graders who love action, dogs, and dog stories with happy endings. Recommended for any library collection.--Jessica Moody
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
An unlikely dog becomes the star of a popular dog adventure television show in this series opener. Fred the dog is a "bitzer. A little bit of this, a little bit of that." He idolizes Dog Squad, a television show featuring live-action dogs in daring escapades, and its canine leading star, Duke. Since Fred's original owner dumped him at an animal shelter, he's been living in New York City with Big Tony, who hopes to turn him into a ferocious guard dog and sell him for a big profit. An alley confrontation lands Fred back in the animal shelter, but this time he's rescued by entertainment industry animal trainer Jenny Yen and her young niece (and self-proclaimed pet psychic), Abby. Ideal for reluctant readers with its short chapters, energetic illustrations, plentiful action, and "pawsome" puns, this light fantasy follows Fred, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Duke, as he adopts the starring role in Dog Squad when Duke becomes injured. But does this unassuming dog have what it takes to be a hero both on and off the camera when a natural disaster, a dognapper, and more disasters strike? Teamwork from Abby and co-stars help guide the way and set the scene for more installments. An author's note touchingly describes the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series creator's source of inspiration: his own Fred, a formerly stray, retired Broadway canine star. Doggone fun. (Animal fiction. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.