Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting by Jennifer Swanson

Illustrated by Rosita Schandy & Neal Wooten
3.0 stars

Being a longtime dog lover, I couldn’t helped but be charmed by the premise of the 2008 children’s book, Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting, which is a story based on the real life lovable dogs – of the same names – once owned by author Jennifer Swanson.

Penny is adventurous, naturally curious and loves to explore and dig in the dirt, while her sister Rio prefers to sunbathe on the deck of her master’s home and spends a lot of time sleeping.

One evening Penny watches animals convening in her backyard and becomes convinced that they are conducting a covert meeting, which makes her determined to find out what’s going on. For a couple of nights, Penny wakes her owner to let it be known that she needs to go outside and the minute the door is opened, she races out into the night! It doesn’t take her owner long to realize what she’s up to, and before she knows it, Penny is banished to the garage so that everyone can have a good night’s sleep. Not long after, Penny’s owner installs a doggie door which is just the thing Penny needs to keep an eye on those dubious critters; namely, Buster the cat, Feathers the owl, Shadow the groundhog, and Nutty the squirrel.

Penny uncovers the neighborhood animals’ plan to break into French Poodle Fifi’s house to retrieve a toy belonging to Buster the cat and decides to take matters into her own paws and warn Fifi of the impending intrusion. Throughout all the commotion Rio acts disinterested in what Penny’s discovered, and continues to prefer to rest.
Penny soon figures out a way to thwart Buster’s plan, only to discover that things are not always as they seem.

Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting is a sweet, enjoyable tale that chapter book readers and dog lovers alike will savor and Rosita Schandy and Neal Wooten’s cute and colorful illustrations will surely delight everyone who reads Jennifer Swanson’s Mom’s Choice Award winning book. Be sure to look for more adventures of the crime-fighting doggie duo in Penny & Rio: The Locked Doghouse Mystery!

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