This 1960s Whitman tie-in coincided with the popular television show starring Jon Provost and June Lockhart. Lassie ran on television from 1954 to 1971 and the canine character also appeared in numerous feature-length films, books and comic books. There was a time when Lassie must have been the world’s best-known dog. Whitman Publishing had their glory days in the 50s and 60s, as I’ve noted in other posts, and their film and television tie-in titles were profitable books. I read several of the Whitman Lassie books and this one was my favorite. The interior illustrations were done by Ken Sawyer and I believe (but have not verified) that Sawyer created the fantastic wrap-around cover. As a young reader I was in love with mysteries and fancied myself an amateur sleuth. Author Dorthea J. Snow also wrote Lassie and the Secret of the Summer, and the novelization for Walt Disney’s Toby Tyler, along with many other titles. I recall reading this book as a child and enjoying the freshness and bright imagery of the prose: “Violets lay thick along the country road, and the green of the new leaves on the trees that formed a canopy over it was the fresh yellow-green of things young and tender and beginning anew. The red of barns and white of farmhouses made them look like bright jewels on green velvet.” This is a world where farm families have cherry pie for desert, the area boys brag about their shiny new bicycles, and the secret cave nearby is headquarters to the boy’s club, the Secret Order of Brave Knights, who are naturally dedicated to fighting evil. In emulating the American Dream depicted on television, author Snow manages to weave into her fabric some juvenile conflict that’s capped by a home-spun resolution. Lassie and the Mystery at Blackberry Bog offers a simplistic plot that idealizes the American way of life, and captures Lassie’s allure. Lassie really is the best dog in the whole world. Sadly, both Whitman Publishing and Lassie are now relics from another time.