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Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting

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Penny and Rio are two dogs who are complete opposites. Penny is curious and always on the go, while Rio prefers a good nap. At their new house, Penny discovers that their backyard is the meeting place for several different animals. Penny doesn't know why a cat, a groundhog, a squirrel, and an owl could possibly be meeting, but she knows she has to find out. She comes up with an ingenious plan for spying on them and discovers their plot. She has to stop them - but can she get her sister dog, Rio, to help her or will Rio decide that sleep is more important? Follow along as these two pet detectives, Penny and Rio solve the first of many cases in Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting.

44 pages, Paperback

First published February 3, 2008

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About the author

Jennifer Swanson

70 books25 followers
Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 45 nonfiction books for children. Using her background in science and history that she received from the U.S. Naval Academy, and her M.S. in Education, Jennifer excels at taking complex facts and making them accessible, compelling, and humorous for young readers, Jennifer's passion for science resonates in in all her books but especially, Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact and BEASTLY BIONICS which both received Florida Book Awards and NSTA BEST STEM book awards. Her Save the Crash-test Dummies book received an NSTA BEST STEM Award and a Parent’s Choice GOLD Award. Jennifer has been a featured speaker at the Tucson Book Festival, National NSTA conferences, the Highlights Foundation, the World Science Festival (twice), the Atlanta Science Festival (twice) and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival in 2019. You can find Jennifer through her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for Jane Maritz.
63 reviews2 followers
August 3, 2009
Ever wonder why on earth your dog dug up the flowers? Or barked like mad to get out in the middle of the night? Or crawled under the fence? Or snuck into the neighbor's house?

The Penny and Rio series just might have the answers for you as it delves into life from a dog's perspective. It's all part of your detective dog's mystery-solving duties, of course...

In the book Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting, you'll meet two completely opposite canines. Penny uncovers a plot by a cat, an owl, a groundhog, and a squirrel to break into the neighbor's house. And of course, it's up to her to guard the neighborhood and foil the plot, while "good man" buddy Rio lazily sleeps on.

I'll stop right there so I don't spoil the mystery for you...

The Author

In addition to being owner to real-life Penny and Rio, Jennifer Swanson has three children. You can find her "ferrying her kids to soccer practice or games, studying hard for her Masters in Education class, relaxing with her husband or most importantly, hard at work on a new mystery for the intrepid Penny and Rio to solve. Jennifer has also recently become a middle school science instructor for John Hopkin University's Center for Talented Youth." She is committed to helping animals and has taught her kids the same values.

Our Review

If you are looking for an introductory chapter book for a toddler, then I highly recommend this one. It has colorful, fun illustrations on every other page or so that kept 2-year-old Esmé's attention as I read through the book. Since it was the first chapter book I've really attempted reading to her, my expectations weren't too high, but when I tried to put the book away after one chapter, she insisted on continuing! We made it through all five chapters (42 pages) in two sittings.

The book is actually intended for an older audience, maybe up to age 9 or so. The story line was pretty basic with a fairly simple vocabulary.

It was fun introducing Esmé to the concept that each of the different animals not only had its animal name (cat, owl), but also a personalized name (Buster, Feathers) - since she is so into arguing about what to call things these days. ("I not Esmé, I girl!" or "That's not Mommy, that's Jane!") She enjoyed describing what was happening in the pictures after I had read about it: "That flower broken! That dog make flowers broken!"

If you're looking for a lesson from the book, it might be that you shouldn't jump to conclusions or make quick judgments of others, because things aren't always what they appear to be.

(Though you might want to explain that it was still wrong for Penny to dig up the flowers or dig under the fence, even though she had a perfectly good reason for doing so.)

Overall, a cute sweet read based on real-life dogs that my little girl enjoyed very much.

For more information on this and upcoming Penny & Rio books (and coloring pages to go with the book, too!), visit Penny & Rio's website (www.pennyandrio.com)...
Profile Image for Betty.
547 reviews48 followers
July 12, 2010
First book in an exciting mystery series for children

An award-winning debut adventure series for young children, this book not only gives the child a pair of unlikely investigators, but delivers a message as well. Much like a chapter book with very short chapters, it can be read to younger children, or used as an early reader. Jennifer Swanson is really onto something with this mystery series.

The two investigators, Penny and Rio, are two dogs with different personalities. When Penny discovers a mystery in their new backyard, she wants to get to the bottom of it, fast. But Rio doesn't want to bother, saying it's not their business. When Penny sees a cat and an owl sitting and talking together she knows that this is not quite right. Birds and cats shouldn't be together, there has to be something more to it. And what about the other animals who seem to be involved, too?

Penny finds herself a hiding place where she can keep an eye on what is happening. She is careful because she has already been in trouble over the barking she did and had to sleep in the garage. Penny doesn't give up trying to solve the mystery, though. When she overhears the plot, or part of it, she tries to talk to Fifi, the dog next door, to warn her about the animals' plans, but Fifi doesn't believe her.

This is an excellent book for children Smaller than a regular chapter book, an early chapter book, the story has enough laughs, enough mystery, enough investigating to keep their interest, illustrations on almost every page, and a surprise ending, all in one lively little book. I know my grandchildren will be looking for the next one! Dog lovers especially should enjoy the antics of Penny and Rio, and the other animals. Illustrated by Rosita Schandy and Neal Wooten. Recommended for children, parents and grandparents; also pre-school, kindergarten and early school.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
123 reviews
April 23, 2010

I actually read this book after the other Penny & Rio book that was book 2. This book is actually the 1st book in a series but it didn't seam to matter. These story's can be read as a stand alone book. My children enjoyed this just as much as the other one we had finished reading.

These two pet detectives seam to find adventures everywhere well I should say Penny finds the adventures while Rio would prefer to nap at their new house. Penny finds out that their back yard has some unusual animals meeting in it. Why is a cat, groundhog squirel and an owl meeting in their back yard. Penny was going to get to the bottom of this and find out what they are up to even if Rio wanted to just nap.

My children where glued to this book as I read on. My youngest son absolutely loves these Penny and Rio books and I'm glad I found these 2 great books for him to enjoy. I actually had to quiet him down on a couple of occasions because he was trying to figure out the adventure a head of what I was reading he was that interested in these books. These are very good mystery books for elementary age children. I would defiantly recommend this book to others.

*I received a complementary copy of Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting for review. This was provided to me by the author Jennifer Swanson threw an opportunity of the Mom Relations. Receiving a complementary copy of this book doesn't obligate me to give a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer. My Reviews are written by me based on my own opinion*
Profile Image for Tiffany.
160 reviews18 followers
April 30, 2010
Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting
By Jennifer Swanson

Penny & Rio move to a new home! Eager to check out her new back yard, Penny discovers an Owl and a cat talking to each other. Rio, who is completely content lying on the porch and enjoying the sun, tells her to stop being so curious and ignore the "meeting" she claims the two animals are having. Penny is just sure the animals are up to something. She makes a hide out and spies on their meeting, uncovering a plot to break into the neighbors' house. Fearful that her house will be next she decides to foil the plan! When the neighbors dog Fifi doesn't believe Penny she takes matters into her own hands! She is not able to do so alone however, and Rio is enlisted to help! This cute, funny story is a tale of team work and co-operation to help a friend, only the friend is not who you think it is! Children of all ages will love this story of two sister dogs and their adventure next door!

This book was magnetizing, after I got through the first chapter. The story picked up and started to draw me into the book during the second chapter. It made me wonder what was really taking place in the animals' scheme. The animals' grouping together in a meeting was entertaining. I wondered at what most dogs and other animals think about during their day. Are they interested in the happening just like Penny and Rio? Penny & Rio is a wonderful, interesting read for any reader ages 8 - 12.
Profile Image for Kristi Bernard.
1,395 reviews18 followers
September 3, 2010
If your children love pets then they will love Penny & Rio. These two dogs are very funny. This story gives kids a pets point of view as to what makes them bark and take a lot of naps.

This five chapter book is an enjoyable read. For a young earlier reader this page turner will keep your little reader wanting more. I love that these pups teach a child team work and how to solve a mystery. They will learn to put together clues on their own. Penny and Rio is a good way to get your child hooked on mysteries and longing for more.

Penny is a very active dog. She likes to dig and play in the back yard. She often finds herself locked in the garage when she barks so much her owner wakes up. Rio, on the other hand is a nap taker. She would prefer to lounge around and have Penny keep her abreast on the yard activities.

The mysterious backyard meeting begins when Penny over hears a squirrel, owl and cat discussing a break in to the neighbors house. Penny is compelled to stop them but needs help from Rio. But that takes some convincing. They dig up the yard under a piece of broken fence to get to the neighbors house. Once inside Penny discovers that the cat has a baby brother that needs rescuing. You will have to read it to find out if they are successful.
60 reviews1 follower
April 26, 2010
This is a cute story about two dogs named Penny and Rio. One of the dogs lays around and sleeps and the other one seems to be on the go most of the time. She is always wondering what the other animals are up to. She is all for protecting hers and the neighbors house from the other animals and keeps up until she finds out the real reason the other animals are having meetings in her yard and trying to get in her neighbors house.

This is an early chapter book which is geared for learning. This book is the first in a series. My 10 year old started reading this book and was getting a bit confused trying to figure out which dog was talking. He is ADHD and sometimes has a hard time concentrating. I then went ahead and read the book to him and the 5 year old and he understood it fine then. The kids enjoyed this story and it really sounded like our 2 dogs. One of them is layed back and the other just bounces off the walls running from door to door wanting to get out and see whats in the yard so the kids could really relate to that. The kids both followed along with the story quite well and are ready to read second book now. All in all I would say this book is good and the kids did enjoy the story and the pictures and it is a book that they will want to here again.
Profile Image for Carol Evans.
1,251 reviews37 followers
May 6, 2009
This was a cute story about not prejudging people, or animals as the case may be. We read it aloud in about 15 minutes. Amber (9) liked it, probably because 90% of the characters were animals. There were a couple grammar mistakes, but they didn't interrupt the flow of the story.
162 reviews3 followers
September 28, 2014
Great fun book to read with your child that both of you will enjoy.
Lots of illustration in the book to keep everyone interested in reading.
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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