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Birdie Gaux and her faithful canine sidekick, Bowser, are back in another mystery. In this sequel to WOOF, Birdie and Bowser find themselves unexpectedly in the middle of a cold case, the murder of Birdie’s police detective dad. Suspicious happenings and characters give Birdie pause – two house burglaries on the same day, the arrival of a young woman with green hair and a man that is a little too interested in the Gaux home. The novel is written from the dog’s point of view – and Bowser is quite hilarious. But the humor does not throw the reader off the scent nor does it distract the reader from the serious events. Bowser proves himself a hero – and Birdie proves herself a fine detective. This dialogue driven novel will entertain mystery lovers and dog lovers alike. The narration by Jim Frangione is perfect.
Here’s hoping for installment #3 in this mystery series.
Spencer Quinn is the author of the bestselling Chet and Bernie mystery books for adults.
Pick the audio book up at the Portland Public Library.
by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Published by Knopf
All of the children in the Ellis family (Elaine, Edith, Emily, Elmer and Ernie) are excellent at something – but the family dog, Ed is desperate to find what he excels at. Ed wants to be allowed to do everything that the children do – eat at the table, ride in the van, sit on the couch and use the indoor bathroom. While the children all excel at things like ballet, cooking, soccer and math – Ed just can’t find his place. He attempts to excel at less than excellent behaviors like breaking things, forgetting and losing things. The poor dog begins to believe that he isn’t good enough for the Ellis family. But the family loves their dog and they see what he is good at. They remind him that he is excellent at cleaning the floor of crumbs, welcoming the family back home with tail wags and kisses and keeping feet warm. The illustrations perfectly depict a warm and loving family. The illustrations are mixed media with a lot of warm yellows. Ed is shown with his tail in constant motion.
Ed shows us that everyone can be excellent at something! This book will be loved by dog lovers everywhere.
Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness
by Donna Janell Bowman and illustrated by Daniel Minter
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
This is a lovely picture book biography of former slave Bill “Doc” Key who became a self-trained veterinarian. As a free man he started traveling with his medicine wagon and found a rundown circus with a neglected and abused gray mare. He bought the horse and nursed her back to health. As she was a purebred Arabian he hoped her offspring might become a champion racehorse. But the colt was spindly legged – and most thought he should be put down. Doc was determined to heal the colt as best he could.
The colt, Jim seemed to watch Doc’s every move – even when he played with his dog. Soon Jim was showing Doc that he could do dog tricks like fetch, sit, and roll over. Doc took the horse on the road and entertained as he sold his medicines. Doc began to wonder what else Jim could learn – and through patience and kindness he learned to read, add and write. They became one of the most famous entertainment acts at the turn of the twentieth century.
The author has brought to life the patient Doc Key and his extraordinary horse. Although they were famous in their day their story has faded over time. This book provides a well-deserved reminder of the duo and their accomplishments. The picture book has beautiful illustrations rendered as linoleum block prints painted with acrylic by Daniel Minter. These illustrations are an integral part of the book and expand the story. (The illustrator lives in Portland.)
Doc and Jim Key clearly show that kindness towards animals brings great rewards.