Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Bowser and his narration are mostly cute
Cons: Plot is uneven with one major thread unresolved
The Bottom Line:
Bowser provides us
Unique narration device
Underserved by plot
Spencer Quinn Brings His Dog Antics to the Middle Grade Crowd
One of the many popular mystery series I keep meaning to get back to is by Spencer Quinn, and the twist to that series is that it is narrated by a dog who helps his PI owner solve cases. Spencer Quinn is taking the same sort of idea and writing it for a younger, middle grade audience with the new Bowser and Birdie series. Woof is the debut, but it unfortunately gets the series off to a shaky start.
Bowser likes Birdie and her Grammy the instant the two walk into the shelter where he is currently living, and is thrilled when Birdie decides he is the dog that she wants to adopt. However, the trio return to the family fishing and tackle business in the Louisiana bayou to find that Grammy’s prize stuffed marlin has been stolen.
The fish wasn’t worth anything except for sentimental value since Grammy’s father had caught it. Then Birdie and Bowser begin to hear rumors of a treasure map that might have been hidden in the marlin. Is that why it was stolen? Can they solve the case?
The narration in this book is perfect. I can easily picture it being written from the point of view of a dog, and it provides many wonderful insights into the mind of man’s best friend. Okay, so maybe this isn’t how dogs really think or how they are wired, but it feels right, and that’s the important point for a work of fiction.
All good things can be overdone, and unfortunately, that is the case with the narration. We get that Bowser thinks Birdie is wonderful, and it is cute at times. But it wears out its welcome by the end of the book. Likewise, there are some other antics of the dog that are clever and cute early on but wear out their welcome by the end.
I certainly liked the characters. Bowser is a warm dog, and it’s hard not to like him. Birdie makes a resourceful main character, and Grammy has some layers to her we don’t get to fully see here but are hinted at and can easily be explored in future books.
Unfortunately, the mystery is underdeveloped. Early on, things don’t seem to progress much at all. Birdie and Bowser really do get into the case in the middle, but in the rush to wrap up the book, a major plot thread is completely dropped. I’m not sure that kids, especially dog lovers, will notice the uneven plotting, but it did bother me.
The dog narration in Woof is a wonderful touch, and I really did want to love this book. Sadly, the plot was just too weak to recommend it to anyone but dog lovers.