Tag Archives: dog

Dog Review: Scents and Sensibility & Woof

ScentsandSensibilityWhen I finally got my paws on a copy of Spencer Quinn’s newest mystery Scents and Sensibility, I knew I was in for a treat! Quinn is so great at writing the way I and my kind think, I just love his Chet and Bernie books!

In this newest book, Chet and Bernie are finally back in the valley, only to find Bernie’s house burgled and their next door neighbor mixed up with the law! The great thing about this book, what really makes my tail wag, is that the mystery starts on a personal note for Chet and Bernie, and then just shoots off from there, getting better with each page, like a nice big rawhide chew. Its a story I can really sink my teeth into and that’s saying something–everyone tells me they’re really big.

For anyone who’s already a Quinn fan, this book will not disappoint you! For anyone who’s just hearing about Chet and Bernie’s mysteries now, the first is called Dog on It, but I don’t really think you need to read them in order; each mystery is contained in its own book–you can start with this new one if you want! You should totally read them all though, they’re more fun than chasing a tennis ball on the beach! Quinn’s solid, well-thought-out mysteries are full of excitement and witty writing and are the second best thing to a nice meaty steak.

Oh and I almost forgot, this book has a surprise in it! A new character who . . . well, you’ll just have to stop by Eight Cousins and pick up a copy to see what I mean.

~ Arlo, the Portuguese Water Dog

WoofI’m so psyched about Woof, Spencer Quinn’s new doggy mystery for puppies in grades 3-5! I’ve always watched the bigger dogs read the Chet and Bernie mysteries and love them, so now it’s great there’s a book for a pup my age to enjoy too! I could just leap seven feet in the air with joy–in fact, nothing’s stopping me . . .

Just like the Chet and Bernie books, Woof is told by one of my guys, a big, fluffy, loveable dog (Bowser) who’s just been adopted by a girl (Birdie) who lives by the bayou in Louisiana with her grandma. Turns out a thief has taken her great grandfather’s prized black marlin from her grandma’s bait shop, and it may or may not contain the secret to a hidden treasure in it! The sheriff is . . . less than helpful, so it falls on Birdie and of course Bowser to get to the bottom of the crime!

Reading a story in the bayou of Louisiana really makes my tail wag, it’s such a cool place to set a mystery! Quinn puts in so much great detail, he really uses the setting to spice up the story, not that the story needs spicing, because it’s a fantastic story, harrowing at the right times, with a good sense of humor, and a really juicy mystery. Quinn adapts his style from the Chet and Bernie books perfectly, this book is just as good as the adult variety, so puppies can enjoy this great kind of mystery too! The narration by the dog is, as always, super on point! Just like my mom’s cooking . . . which I take off the table when she isn’t looking . . .

~ Woody, the Portuguese Water Dog

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Staff Review: Dog On It

9781416585848Spencer Quinn

Dog On It

Atria Books

$16.00

Available now

What is more delightful than a dog? A missing-persons mystery narrated by a detective’s dog! This book is the perfect combination of well-crafted mystery and witty narration. Spencer Quinn is a master not only of pacing, but also of voice and characterization. He spins a detective tail (yes, that is a pun) that I challenge any reader to try to put down.

When fifteen-year-old Madison is kidnapped, her frantic mother calls up Bernie Little who, along with his faithful flunked-out police dog Chet, works as a private detective. The duo travel around their southwestern town, grappling with a dearth of clues, the wake of an unpleasant divorce, unhelpful clients, and Bernie’s refreshingly environmentalistic views on water and land use in the desert. In the course of their search, the two become missing persons themselves on multiple occasions, with action sequences sprinkled in at just the right moments.

The truly brilliant part of the story is that Chet occasionally witnesses key events and clues that Bernie does not . . . but he’s a dog, and most scientists would agree that dogs cannot talk, and therefore cannot communicate what he knows to Bernie. What this means for the reader is that a beautiful thread of dramatic irony has been woven throughout the story, with Chet, and therefore readers, straining to tell Bernie everything we know, and sitting helplessly as Bernie follows up red herrings instead.

All of the characters in this book are brilliantly written, even those who appear and disappear in the span of three pages. Of course, in this mystery, not everybody is as they seem, and they are seldom telling the truth.

Chet in particular is a truly lovable character. Quinn writes from the perspective of a dog better than even my own dog could (provided he could write). Anybody who reads this book will immediately begin to wonder just what exactly is going on between their own dog’s floppy ears. Chet thinks exactly like somebody would expect a perspicacious canine to think, and speaks with a voice that keeps the reader perpetually engaged.

The only thing better about this book than the characters is the plot, which weaves and worms its way on a path that is never once boring or formulaic. Quinn gives away just enough for an especially sharp reader to be able to figure out the mystery just one or two steps ahead of Bernie. It isn’t too hard, but definitely is not simplistic.

Any adult or teen who likes mysteries and dogs should definitely stop by eight cousins and pick up a copy. This is probably the best doggone book I’ve read in a long time!

~Ben

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2012 Picks of the Year — Middle Grade Chapter Books

9781452104676

Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals
By Hearst, Michael
2012-09 – Chronicle Books (CA)
9781452104676 $16.99

Michael Hearst is a composer of unusual music, including “Songs for Unusual Creatures.” He gathered so much fascinating material that he also wrote a book about fifty very strange animals, their habits and oddities. As a man of imagination, he has included not only the weirder details, but also playful humor and wit.

9781423135005

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
By Marsh, Katherine
Hyperion Books
9781423135005 $16.99

Jepp is a dwarf teenager, and in 16th century Europe a dwarf is a curiosity of economic value. A greasy nobleman promises Jepp’s unsophisticated mother good things for him, and carries Jepp off to court, where a world of capricious luxury awaits. The beds are soft, but full of humiliation, and after initial wide-eyed excitement, Jepp and a friend try to escape. They’re partially successful, but find themselves in an even stranger situation.

9780385737432

Liar and Spy
By Stead, Rebecca
Wendy Lamb Books
9780385737432 $15.99

Georges (the s is silent) isn’t thrilled about his family’s move to a smaller apartment, but he understands his dad is unemployed, his mother is working extra shifts at the hospital, and he should do his bit to help. So Georges explores and meets Safer and Candy, two kids on another floor. Safer is a self-appointed spy looking for an assistant, since Candy is goofy and unreliable. Georges is wary but polite, and the results are funny, touching, and surprising.

9780375869020

Wonder
By Palacio, R. J.
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780375869020 $15.99

Human kindness isn’t simple, as Auggie Pullman learns when he leaves the safety of homeschooling for a regular fifth grade class. His severe facial deformity gives everyone pause.  Among his family, classmates, and teachers, some are able to recognize the smart, funny, brave boy beneath the odd features, and some can barely tolerate him.  When the chips are down, when kids from another school start picking on Auggie, will anyone stand up for him?  The answer will sing out like a Handel oratorio.  In the few months since it was published, we already see schools taking up the book as a must read.

9780374350956

Fourmile
By Key, Watt
Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374350956 $16.99

Foster and his mother aren’t able to keep up the farm since his dad died, and his mother is trying to sell it, although she knows 12-year-old Foster wants to stay. Dax, the man who calls on her, is no friend to Foster, and Dax positively hates Foster’s dog Joe. Things are tense and getting worse when a stranger walks up the road. The stranger is Gary, an Iraq war vet who asks to trade barn shelter for chores. In Foster’s eyes Gary is a model of strength and masculine virtue. But Gary seems to have something to hide, and Dax would love to see Gary gone. The fiery climax reveals several things, including a more mature Foster.

9780547738475

The Last Dragonslayer
By Fforde, Jasper
Harcourt Children’s Books
9780547738475 $16.99

Reading Jasper Fforde is like listening to Spike Jones: serious sounding stuff except that there’s always one more outlandish boink and tootle where you least expect it. It works so well in Fforde’s Thursday Next mysteries that he’s now created the character of Jennifer Strange, a teenage foundling, who heads up Mystical Arts Management and keeps a knife-toothed Quarkbeast. Mystical arts and their practitioners were once revered, but lately they’re lucky to get paid for rewiring houses and unblocking drains. The less people believe in magic, the lower its powers ebb. The impending death of Maltcassion, the last dragon, is about to reduce it even further, as humans scramble to claim the valuable real estate that belonged to Maltcassion. And what does that have to do with the prediction of Big Magic? Jennifer Strange will be at the center of the coming changes, changes that are surprising to the end.

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2012 Picks of the Year — Early Grade Chapter Books

9780763655495

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
By Davies, Nicola
Candlewick Press 
9780763655495 $19.99

Davies’ observations of nature are transformed into poems by Hearld’s glorious illustrations. This book will encourage any child with an ounce of curiosity and creativity to create their own nature journal.

9780375868467

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story
By Spinner, Stephanie
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780375868467 $17.99

This book is a retelling, for children, of the book Irene Pepperberg wrote (Alex & Me : How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence —  and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process) about her language research with the African grey parrot Alex. At a time when bird intelligence was considered extremely limited, Alex proved to Pepperberg and the scientific world that he possessed vastly more smarts than anyone had guessed, and a boatload of personality as well.

9780547681009

Malcolm at Midnight
By Beck, W. H.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
9780547681009 $16.99

Malcolm is such a small rat he’s mistaken for a mouse when he becomes the class pet in Mr. Binney’s fifth grade. Soon Malcolm joins the Midnight Academy. The Academy is a secret society of the pets from all the classes, and they’re a varied lot. In fact, some of them may be traitors, allied with the unknown threat that lives in the clock tower. Malcolm has to manage tricky relationships with both the humans and the other animals. The writing is charmingly believable, and the many illustrations add another lively dimension.

9780061992254

The One and Only Ivan
By Applegate, Katherine
Harper
9780061992254 $16.99

A quick read based on a true story. A massive silverback ape, Ivan, lived for years in a cage in a faltering roadside attraction. When a baby elephant is added to the menagerie, he realizes she will be condemned to this humiliating drudgery unless he can come up with a way to free them both. Much of the book’s strength lies in the way it recognizes the power of language.

Bestselling author Applegate presents an unforgettable and uplifting tween animal fantasy that explores the power of friendship, art, and hope with humor and touching poignancy. Illustrations.

9781442435797

Lulu Walks the Dogs
By Viorst, Judith
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
9781442435797 $15.99

Lulu needs money, never mind for what, and decides her best gambit is a dog walking enterprise. She certainly does NOT want any interference from Fleischman, the goody two-shoes boy down the block. Lulu is terrible with the dogs, Fleischman keeps trying to be helpful. Chapter by chapter, compromise by compromise, they negotiate their way to a true partnership.

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