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What to know: What an awesome find! Written so that struggling and avid readers alike will be enthralled.
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This series of books follows a dog detective named Upton who, together with his family, helps people. In Tip Top, Upton and his family (mom, dad and twins) try to find out what happened to a snake charmer who has gone missing from the carnival. This story is topsy-turvy and you don't know what will happen next. But Upton is there to sniff out all the clues and help the family solve the case.

This story made me laugh because Upton talks directly to the reader and he is very logical and reasonable. Throughout the book, Upton and the other characters reference a lot of information. Some things I knew about and some I didn't. I think this a great thing for a kid's book because it teaches kids about new things. Or, like with me, makes them ask their parents about things they didn't know about before, like certain events in history.

This book reinforces the fact that animals have thoughts too and they are smart and have lots to say - if only you know how to listen to them. Upton's family knows how smart he is and they have learned to listen to him and understand him. This is good because Upton is definitely helpful in solving this case. Also, the book is good because you learn how not to act or behave by watching the bad guy.

The character of Upton definitely stands out. Even though he is another species, he is the most remarkable character in the book because of his brainpower and curiosities. He is a layered character with lots of different sides. Unfortunately, he sometimes doubts himself by saying things like "I'm only a little white dog." I did not like that part because it is like saying "I'm bald so I can't live my dreams as a hair stylist." But in the end, Upton comes through so I suppose he overcomes his doubts.

This books meets all the guidelines for a great kids' book: no gratuitous violence or profanity; no inappropriate sexual behavior; no bias in terms of race, gender or religion; and no unsafe behavior. The storyline is simple and easy to follow and Upton steals almost every scene.

I recommend this book for children from four to eight years of age (if you live in Madrid like I do and need more books to read in English, then from ten to fourteen). I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars because the idea of a dog detective is fun and I like the fact that Upton talks in the first person. Unfortunately, there are a lot of typos, extra or missing words, and grammar mistakes in the online edition that I read, but I'm sure that will get corrected.

Reviewed by Miles T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Tip Top is a fun mystery book that would be entertaining for kids. I really like how they added facts to the story so you can learn things while you read. Sneaking historical facts into the story is very clever. Kids can learn about a lot of different things about science (snakes) and history (presidents).

Tip Top follows the Charles family and their white Bichon Frise named Upton. They help solve mysteries with the police department. In this book, they are asked to find the Snake Lady from the carnival, Amanda, who is missing. The family works together really hard to find clues to solve the mystery.

The moral of this story is that, if you work together, you can achieve lots. Officer Tree, Upton and the whole family all help each other find out what happened. They all contribute to finding clues.

I also like the pictures. There aren't lots of them, but they add visuals so you know how Upton and the other characters look.

I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars because it helps to teach you facts and it is entertaining for kids.

Reviewed by Mia A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

What an awesome find! I truly wish I had the Upton Charles Dog Detective books to read with my children as they were growing up! The Charles family, consisting of Mom, Dad, the twins and a talented Bichon Frise named Upton are called upon to help solve mysteries in their community. Readers will enjoy picturing life from a dog's point of view while being entertained with colorful details and intriguing twists to the plot.

Tip Top takes us to the travelling carnival where Amelia the Snake Lady and all of her snakes have disappeared. Clue after clue are discussed and help the readers sort out facts in order to build their own theories on the mysterious disappearance.

As a former school administrator, I applaud Florida State for including Upton Charles books in their Common Core Curriculum. In Tip Top, author D.G. Stern adds to the story's interest by dropping names of famous people such as former President Clinton and former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev helping make the story feel more relevant to real life. If young readers aren't careful, they might increase their knowledge about topics like the Great Depression, the American Revolution and the Second World War. The author brilliantly infuses historically significant facts into the narration in a painless and entertaining manner.

Tip Top is written such that struggling readers can enjoy the storyline and avid readers will be enthralled. I wholeheartedly endorse Tip Top and the other books in the Upton Charles Dog Detective series!

Reviewed by Ruth A., KIDS FIRST! Juror

This is about as exciting as it gets. The carnival is in town and the twins really want to go, although Upton is not too keen on the idea, until the Chief of Police calls and says that there has been a disappearance the snake lady and all her snakes are gone. Upton, who is a Bichon Frise (that's "BEE-shon free-ZEY"), a little white dog, knows his duty and joins the Charles' to sniff out the missing reptiles, although he has no idea what a snake smells like. Actually, Upton doesn't like snakes at all. Come along and enjoy the ride. Watch clues slither by as Upton solves the mystery of Tip Top.
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