Title: Barking Up the Wrong Tree (Stick & Fetch Investigate #1)
Author: Philip Ardagh
Illustrator: Elissa Elwick
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Children’s fiction, Humour
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Description: Sally Stick and her fellow detective (and best friend) Fetch are surprisingly good at solving unusual cases. the cases may only exist inside their heads, and the clues may not exactly be clues, but that doesn’t stop them!

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is a such a great, funny and silly book, it really made me laugh. ‘Stick & Fetch Investigate: Barking Up the Wrong Tree’ is a small pocket sized book (A6ish in size) filled with three separate adventures of Stick & Fetch. The book has some nice thick matt pages and is filled with both colourful illustrations and text. Sally Stick and her best friend, and dog, Fetch are detectives investigating cases that really don’t need investigating.

Stick and Fetch Barking up the Wrong Tree book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

In the first pages there is a brief introduction to Sally and her dog and then there are three separate stories, each with a different investigation happening, and each has a separate title. The book’s format reminds me of the ‘Mango & Bambang’ books as the size and feel of the book is the same along with the way it’s been coloured, with only black white and in this case yellow. The stories are all very funny as Stick and Fetch decide to investigate things that just don’t need investigating. For example, in one tale, my favourite, Stick and Fetch find a balloon that’s drifted into their garden. They decide it’s been stolen and so start to investigate. I won’t go into the details of the stories, but there’s a lot of silliness that happens in each tale, as the two detectives cause a bit of mayhem while conducting their investigations.

There are three tales in the book: ‘Telly Trouble’, ‘No Clowning Around’ and ‘Up, Up And Away’. Each story is not linked with the others and can be read on its own although the first story ‘Telly Trouble’ does a good job of introducing the characters and showing the format for the other stories. Although all three stories were funny to read I can’t help but love the last one. Just the idea of the balloon and its age made me laugh as well as the silliness of the adventure the two go on.

Stick and Fetch Barking up the Wrong Tree book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

The illustrations really add to the humour. I like the way Fetch looks throughout the book, something about this dog and the way it looks just makes me smile and laugh alone. I also loved the image of what they look like to a neighbour when riding their bike. The illustrations are simple yet really show their expressions well and I can’t help but laugh when reading the story and looking at the pictures. I enjoy the colour of the pictures too. They are all black, white and yellow with various shades of grey and yellow. Despite the simple colours it does work and made this book so much fun to read.

Although the stories are all fun for children to read and are aimed at kids, those who are older, teens and adults will find these stories funny too. Perhaps those older will find the endings even funnier than some kids as they reveal just how silly and obvious some of the clues in the investigations are. I’d recommend this book to any kids who enjoy a good humour book. It’s hopefully the first of many books in a series.

-Review first appeared online March 2018 – now republished here.

Read review of book 2 – Stick & Fetch Investigate: The Wrong End of the Stick by clicking here.


Do you like this book?  What about other funny books?  Have you ever tried to play detective when you were younger?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂