________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 39. . . .June 10, 2016


Houdini’s Escape. (The Puppy Collection; 7).

Susan Hughes. Illustrated by Leanne Franson.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2016.
88 pp., pbk., html & Apple, $5.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-4650-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-4803-0 (html), ISBN 978-1-4431-4804-7 (Apple).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by John Dryden.

*** /4


“Look at him go!” said Maya. She smiled as she, Grace and Kat ran out after him.

Then suddenly Grace cried, “Oh no!”

Kat froze. The puppy was halfway across the yard, and the back gate, which led to the laneway, was wide open.

The puppy was making a beeline for the gate.


Kat, Maya and Grace are totally consumed by dogs. They have formed a club called “The Puppy Collection” (also a shameless plug for the series of books bearing the same moniker). They go and visit Kat’s aunt, Jenn, who runs a boarding house for dogs as well as a doggie salon. This is where they meet Mr. Ho’s beagle puppy, Houdini, that was named after the real life Houdini, an escape artist. The puppy has learned how to sit, and lie down, but not the “come” command. When the combination of escape artist and lack of heeding the “come” command combine, trouble ensues. The dog slips out the gate and is luckily nabbed by a young girl prior to bolting out onto the road where who knows what could’ve happened! Kiera is the young girl who saves Houdini. She is also in the habit of running away from her caregivers and is scolded by her own mother for doing so. Kiera just happens to also love puppies, and she is very sad because she has been invited to a dog birthday party and feels she can’t go without a puppy of her own. Kiera chats with the ‘Puppy Collection’ club about borrowing the puppy for the party (and includes an invite for Kat, Maya, and Grace to boot). Permission to take Houdini to the dog birthday party is received, and the group of puppy lovers attends the party (even providing a birthday gift for their unknown host). Kiera is given special permission to use Houdini as her own dog for the party. Kiera’s babysitter warns Kiera to not run away from the party. However, Kiera runs away from the party while the babysitter and the ‘Puppy Collection’ girls are helping tidy the party up. Because Houdini was doing better than a boy’s dog at the party games, the boy becomes mean to Kiera, telling her that she shouldn’t even be there because she doesn’t have her own dog. When Kiera drops Houdini’s leash and runs off into the pet party palace’s maze (conveniently located in the backyard of the pet party place) Houdini disappears after her, but not to escape! This time, Houdini tracks the girl into the maze and leads her out to safety. All is well, and Mr. Ho’s dog is returned as a hero, safe and sound.

     Houdini’s Escape will be well-received by dog lovers. Susan Hughes delivers a charming story about friendships and mischief-making puppies. She weaves in some interesting facts about dogs (brachycephalic) and some training tips (house training, and command teaching), but she does not overdo this aspect of the book. She even includes facts about the magician Houdini through some of the characters’ dialogue. The illustrations by Leanne Franson are excellent and enhance the reader’s experience with Houdini and the girls. The target audience of kids who adore puppies will find this book interesting and fun.


John Dryden teaches in Cowichan, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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