Monday, May 17, 2010
Nate adores dogs. We don't have one (yet!) but my mom has three and our neighbor has one so he gets plenty of canine playtime. When I came upon a book that would meld his love of storytime with his love for dogs, I knew I had to review it.
The Penny & Rio series was created by Jennifer Swanson, a former prep school chemistry teacher. She and her husband discovered their love of dogs when they adopted their first dog, Penny. Less than a year later, they adopted her best pal, Rio. Jennifer practiced writing for several years as she raised her three children and taught both full and part-time. It was only natural that she incorporated her beloved pets into her writing. And so, Penny and Rio became the star detectives of their very own mystery books! These interactive early chapter books, aimed at children ages 6-9, have won several awards for excellence including two Mom's Choice Awards, and have been included in the Children's Book Council 2009 Bibliographies.
Jennifer kindly sent me the first book in her series, Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting. In this book, we are introduced to the two characters who are polar opposites. Penny is curious and always on the go, while Rio is more relaxed. At their new house, Penny discovers that their backyard is the meeting place for several different animals. Why would a cat, a groundhog, a squirrel and an owl want to meet? Desperate to find out, she comes up with an ingenious plan to spy on them and discovers their plot. She has to stop them - but can she get her sister, Rio, to help her or will Rio decide that a nap is more important?
I love that the book is divided into chapters so it is easy for early readers to make their way through. Since Nate's attention span is still rather short, we took it one chapter at a time. He liked looking at the pictures as I read aloud to him. Many childrens' books lack a clear plot, but Penny & Rio builds suspense until it reaches the climax near the end of the story. I chuckled a bit as a read along with Penny's antics. The personalities of both dogs reminded me of pets we had growing up. I really liked the message in the end that first impressions are not always correct.
As you can see, Nate finds Penny & Rio to be quite the page turner:
Bottom line: I think Penny & Rio would be a great addition to any child's library, especially those who love dogs. The Mysterious Backyard Meeting is a fun tale that children will love to have read for them and when they're older, one that they can read for themselves. I'm eager to purchase the next book, The Locked Doghouse Mystery and will be keeping my eye out for The Diamond Collar Adventure, coming in July 2010!
BUY IT: Signed copies of the Penny & Rio books can be purchased online at www.pennyandrio.com (ARV $7.99/each or $15.00/books 1&2). Jennifer donates a portion of all proceeds to a local Jacksonville pet rescue organization called G.R.E.A.T. Rescue as well as Pawsitive Pets, a local organization that takes dogs into schools to help children learn to read.
WIN IT: The author is generously giving away one copy of Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting to one lucky reader!
MAIN COURSE (MANDATORY ENTRY): Visit Penny & Rio and tell me something you learned while you were there. Remember to please leave your email address in your comment if it isn't visible on your profile to prevent disqualification!
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1.) Follow my blog and/or subscribe via reader or email. Comment telling me which method you chose. If you already follow or subscribe, that counts! (1 entry each)
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Giveaway will end on May 31, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. only. Winner will be chosen via Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond to congratulatory email or prize will be forfeited and another winner will be chosen.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author to facilitate an honest review. I was in no other way compensated for this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are mine alone. Your experience may differ.