Saturday, December 5, 2015

Rider Woofson: The Case of the Missing Tiger's Eye

Rider Woofson: The Case of the Missing Tiger's Eye
Walker Styles
Ben Whitehouse, Illustrator
Simon and Schuster, 2016 119 pgs.
Grades 2-5
Rider Woofson Series #1

Laughs abound in this pot-boiler of a series opener by new author, Walter Styles. The action takes place in the city of Pawston, the animal capital of the world. All is quiet, but the P.I. Pack awaits the next adventure thrust upon them from the criminal underbelly of the city. The pack consists of Rider, the leader, a typical old-school dog detective and his three quirky, yet resourceful buddies. The team doesn't have long to wait. An important and valuable statue called "The Tiger's Eye" goes missing from a jewelry store across town. The P.I. Pack jumps into the case starting with the owner of the store, Mr. Meow (the book's sole feline) and the ancient security guard, Frenchie. A banana peel clue leads the gang to a theater across the street to see a performance of The Banana Splits, an acrobatic monkey troop. What ensues is a chase of zany screwball proportions culminating with the rescue of The Tiger's Eye and capture of the henchmen monkeys. Yet, the true mastermind of the crime manages to escape. This leads the reader to the next installment in the series Something Smells Fishy, released simultaneously.

Styles offers a new series right on target for children discovering chapter books. The action never stops as the P.I. Gang hunts for clues and chases bad guys using their kooky inventions and ingenuity. Readers new to the genre will be trained to read mysteries and follow clues and suspects in this traditional, yet fresh and funny series opener. The puns and groaners are plentiful and will keep the target audience in stitches. Cartoon-like illustrations appear on practically every page and help to keep the reader entertained and turning pages. The print is large, the margins wide, and the chapters are short with cliff hangers, just right for encouraging new chapter book readers. First in a series, the reader will have somewhere to go once the book is completed and a chapter except from the next installment helps to create interest. Although one member of the P.I. Pack is female, the rest of the characters are male. The book will mostly appeal to boys, but girls will like it too. Because the characters are animals, diversity is not an issue. It is interesting that there is only one cat and he is a shady character. As a cat lover I should take offense at this, but I couldn't because this book is just too dog-gone funny (sorry, couldn't resist:). Is this book War and Peace? Certainly not, but it will serve to entice reluctant readers and entertain as well as encourage kids to keep reading.

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