Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006. 978-1416928157
Synopsis: When the Monroe family decides to go on vacation without their beloved pets, Chester and Harold are booked ‘bungalows’ at the Chateau Bow-Wow. But their first night there, a horrible howling noise makes Chester dub their hotel the Howliday Inn. And that’s only the start: when some of the other guests start to disappear, Chester suspects murder and he enlists Harold’s help in solving the mystery.
Why I picked it up: I loved Bunnicula and I wanted to read the other books in the series.
Why I finished it: Harold is a delightful narrator that helps to keep up the suspense and mystery as the reader works to put together the pieces to solve the puzzle. Even though Bunnicula is absent from this adventure, there is still a large cast of characters to entertain the reader. Chester is still every bit as snarky and pompous, assuming facts before he has all of the evidence and jumping from conclusion to conclusion without really thinking about logic. Harold isn’t quite as clever or conniving as Chester, but he has a big heart and is willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. The other dogs and cats at the Chateau Bow-Wow – Max, Georgette, Louise, Howard, Heather, Taxi, and Lyle – are somewhat flat, but despite their two-dimensionality, they move the plot along and provide excellent foils for Harold and Chester. Howe has borrowed from the great mystery tradition of Agatha Christie and given the reader a sort of children’s version of “And Then There Were None” that keeps the pages turning until the very end and it has a much happier ending than its inspiration. It is a clever and witty tale that will entertain readers of all ages reading after reading after reading.
Other related materials: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe; The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe; Nighty-Nightmare by James Howe; Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe; Bunnicula Strikes Again by James Howe; Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow by James Howe; The Fright Before Christmas by James Howe; It Came From Beneath the Bed! by James Howe; Screaming Mummies of the Pharaoh’s Tomb II by James Howe; The Odorous Tales of Stinky Dog by James Howe; Howie Monroe and the Doghouse of Doom by James Howe; Bud Barkin’, Private Eye by James Howe; Eeire Elementary series by Jack Chabert, illustrated by Sam Ricks; The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks; Fantastic Mister Fox by Roald Dahl