Tag Archive for The Case of the Best Pet Ever

Fan Mail Wednesday #321: from Kaya in Istanbul



For many years now, I’ve been receiving fan mail from a school in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s always a thrill to get them, just the idea that something I wrote can make it all the way there — and then, years later, we connect through that shared book experience. Writer and reader. Words bring us together. It’s kind of beautiful when you think about it. Here’s one from Kaya . . .

Dear Mr Preller,

I am Kaya from Turkey. I am a fifth grade student at Hisar College. English my foreign language. I read your book Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Best Pet Ever. I really enjoyed it.  It was for my English project but it was so good. I had so much fun.
I like your book because I love detective stories.  I was curious about who stole the Grand Prize. Also, I like your book because it was about animals and I have pets. I have two dogs and they like to play with shoes  like Rags. I remembered my dogs Hugo and Coco when Teddy says his dog steals shoes.
In the beginning I thought it was a human who stole the prize. I was surprised when I learned that it was an animal. I was suspicious about Solofsky like Jigsaw and Mila were. I thought that he was lying. I didn’t like this character but in the end I was so happy when he was innocent. I liked the friendship and work of Mila and Teddy. I was happy when they solved the detective case. I wished that Jigsaw and Rags would win the contest. I was disappointed when the hamster won it.

Some of the vocabulary you used was difficult for me but I learned new words. Normally I read slowly but I was curious about your story and I read it so fast.

I liked the pictures of your book. They helped me to understand your story better. In my opinion the book can be more interesting if pictures are colorful.

I want to read other books of Jigsaw Jones this summer.  They look so interesting.

Nice to meet you.
Kaya Ö


I replied . . .

Dear Kaya,

I must have a very good friend in Turkey, because I sure get a lot of letters from students at your school. For years and years now. It’s amazing how one teacher can make such a big difference.
You are very impressive to be able to read and write in English with such skill and charm.
I am a dog lover, too. My dog is named Echo and I am pleased to report that he no longer steals my shoes. As a puppy, he went through a phase when he ate 2 remote controls for our television. What a mess! Nowadays Echo is nearly perfect. But sadly, he’s afraid of thunder. Storms send him into a tizzy. We have to figure out a solution, because it’s getting worse.
My sweet sensitive dog.
I enjoy writing about Bobby Solofsky. He’s always trouble. Like Jigsaw says, he’s a pain in the neck . . . only lower. When writing mysteries, it’s important to have a few different suspects to keep readers guessing. Bobby is good for that. In my most recent Jigsaw Jones book, The Case of the Hat Burglar, I was able to explore Bobby a little bit more. Jigsaw even visits his house, sits in his kitchen. I think maybe he’s not such a bad kid after all.
Thanks for reading my book. You sure must be one smart cookie!
My best,
James Preller
P.S. At the risk of sounding too self-promotional, I do have other books that might work for a reader with your sophistication and ability. That is, the characters are older than Jigsaw Jones — as are you — but the stories are not much harder to read. If you like scary stories, I think you’d do well with my “Scary Tales” books.  Also, I have three books in the “Big Idea Gang” series that again are not much more difficult to read. Good luck & thank you, Kaya!

Fan Mail Wednesday #21

Time’s a-wasting, so away we go:

Dear Mr Preller,

I recently read The Case of the Best Pet Ever. The main character of the book is funny and likes finding out mysteries. I noticed that Rags looks a lot like Daisy. Rags sleeps, drools, barks at the door bell and never seems to get things where he means to put them. Is that just like Daisy?

Is Rain just like your daughter? I liked her because she was the owner of the pet store and I love pets. I really liked when the ferret helped the team discover the mystery of how they lost their stuff. I also liked the time when all the pets came together for the contest and it got really nutty. Our family has stuff like that happen. Does your family have that kind of fun also? I also really liked how the little piece of fur lead them to discover the mystery of who was taking their stuff. I think it will help me to try to notice little things each day.

My favorite chapter is Rags to Riches, because at the end it tells us who took all their stuff. At Fins and Feathers it was really neat to imagine how crazy it was. I also thought it was cool that Rain the girl character was so active. I really felt like I knew her and I liked her because she was a girl.

Continued Success,


I replied:

Hi Reece,

Thanks for your kind and well-written note. You are an observant reader. Like a good detective, you notice small details.

You are right about Rags — he does look like my current dog, Daisy. But it’s only a coincidence.

When I wrote that book, we had a basset hound named Seamus (the book is dedicated to him). Seamus ate socks, stole food off the table, drooled constantly, and smelled bad. And those were his best features! He inspired aspects of Rags. While doing research, I discovered a Doggie IQ Test. You place a towel over the dog’s head and observe its reaction. An alert dog quickly shakes off the towel. A medium dog might wait a few seconds before responding. And a dog like Seamus sits and wonders who turned out the lights. Or in Rags’ case, falls asleep!

Jigsaw gets pretty bummed about Rags — he wasn’t going to win any talent shows — until Jigsaw realizes Rags’ true talent. As Jigsaw notes late in the book:

The big fur ball loved me with all his heart. Every minute of every hour of every day.

And that’s no small trick.

My father patted me on the shoulder. “A wise man once said, ‘Try to be the person your dog thinks you are.'”

He smiled and headed back into the kitchen. “I have an important meeting with a cheesecake,” he explained.

What else? Oh, yeah, you mentioned Rain. I wanted her father to be a “crunchy granola” type, thus his daughter’s name. I liked Jigsaw’s line after his brother, Billy, tells Jigsaw that his new girlfriend’s name is Rain. Jigsaw asks, “Does she have a sister named Partly Cloudy?”

My best,


P.S. This was a difficult book for me, because when I was writing it my oldest son, Nicholas, became sick with leukemia. Though I did my best to keep working, my concentration was not great. And writing is nothing if not concentration. I finally asked my publisher for help and Howie Dewin stepped in as co-author. While this book is mostly me, some parts are not. The whole experience was a blur. So I look at that book and feel like it could have been better. It sort of bothers me. After that I took a break, then came back strong with Jigsaw Jones #23: The Case of the Perfect Prank.

P.S.S. Nick is doing great, by the way!