Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on August 7, 2007
HOW DID ROSEBUD CHECK OUT FROM HOWLIDAY INN?
The Monroes have gone on vacation, once again leaving Harold, Chester, and Howie at Chateau Bow-Wow, which Chester aptly dubbed "Howliday Inn" during their last stay there. The motley crew of boarders may have changed, but the creepy goings-on at Howliday Inn have not. A ghostly voice, buried bones, and a collar with the name "Rosebud" on it suggest that murder may have been added to the services offered at the kennel.
A pair of yuppie puppies from posh Upper Centerville, two cat burglars (sisters-in-crime) named Felony and Miss Demeanor, a melancholy Great Dane named Hamlet, and a weasel named, well, The Weasel, join the Monroe pets in getting to the bottom of the mysterious happenings. But will they be able to escape the fate that may have befallen Rosebud?
When you think of young readers stories I doubt the first things that come to mind are Citizen Kane and Shakespeare. Nor do you likely think of ventriloquists or classic literature. And yet somehow Howe manages to reference all of these things in his direct sequel to HOWLIDAY INN.
RETURN TO HOWLIDAY INN is part hard boiled crime, part adventure, and part comedy. At times it may feel like a Dashiell Hammett novel or something straight from Orson Wells, but for kids! It’s got class, it’s got culture, it’s got…talking dog collar ghosts? Yep, sounds like James Howe.
Like most Bunnicula books, RETURN doesn’t talk down to kids. Instead it takes them by the hand and offers them comedy, culture, and an enhanced vocabulary without them even realizing. Plus what other animal based book gets its subjects on such a deep level? Never has a cat been better described personality wise than when embodied by Chester.
Of course, with this being a HOWLIDAY INN book, there are other animals to meet. Felony and Miss Demeanor, our friendly CAT burglers are the Mungogerrie and Rumpleteaser of this Bunnicula story. Then of course there are a few old faces from the previous HOWLIDAY INN story, but I won’t tell who, you’ll just have to find out for yourselves.
The two HOWLIDAY INN stories are excellent to read back to back, or you can read the series in proper order with CELERY STALKS and NIGHTY NIGHTMARE in between. Whichever way you do it, this book MUST be read after HOWLIDAY INN proper, or none of it will make any sense. That said, I’m always for reading a series like this in proper chronological order, even if you don’t necessarily have to.
This is a great little mystery for kids, which is the strongest thing about this series as a whole. Paired with the humor and animal mannerisms, nothing makes me love this series more than its characters. This is what Howe shines at. And RETURN TO HOWLIDAY INN is no exception.
I highly recommend this spooky mystery for reading in October, as ghost doggies and murder are abound.
What is your favorite kids’ mystery? Share one in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,