by Spencer Quinn

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Author Information:
Q&A with Spencer Quinn on publisher page – scroll about half-way down the page:

Spencer Quinn talks about his Chet and Bernie series (3:01):

Letter from Spencer Quinn about Birdie and Bowser:

Spencer Quinn bio:

Who is a Pirate?:

How to make a treasure map:

How to draw a pirate map:

Printable treasure maps for kids:

Jean Lafitte:

Jean Laffite bio:

Breezeway house image:

How to take care of a dog:

Adopting a shelter dog:

How to adopt a dog:

Pet care:

Mystery games:

Woof game:

Basic duties and types of sworn law enforcement officers:

What gum is made of:

How gum is made:

How to blow bubbles:

How to fish:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Fishing site:

Black Marlins:


Types of powerboats and their uses:

22 tips for new boaters:

Discussion Questions:

Did Bowser’s sense of smell help enhance the storytelling? Why or why not?

What do you think Bowser meant when he saw Donny using binoculars? “I’m not a big fan of humans with binoculars for eyes; it makes them even more machinelike than they already are.”

Was it okay for Birdie and Nola to lie about working on a school project when they interviewed Maybelline Peckham? Why or why not?

How would you react if your friend wanted to spray paint someone’s property? Would you go along or tell them it was wrong?

Grammy asked Birdie if she knew what Bowser had been doing his first night with them. When Birdie hesitated, Grammy asked her, “Cat got your tongue?” What does this expression mean?

Birdie told Grammy she wanted to change her name when she turned twenty-one. Have you ever wanted to change your name? If so, what would your new name be?

Bowser thought gum chewing was one of the best sounds and the smell was okay, too. Do you chew gum? Why or why not?

The morning after the break-in at Straker’s World Famous Fishing Emporium, the sheriff visited Birdie at Gaux Family Fish and Bait. Did he suspect her? Why or why not?

Stevie snuck up on Birdie and Bowser as they were watching his dad’s Fishing Emporium from across the bayou. When Stevie asked Birdie what she was doing there, she answered, “It’s a free country.” What does this mean? Do you believe this?

What do you think of Rory’s family rules? Does your family have some? If yes, what are some and are they effective? If not, would you like your family to create rules? What would they be?

What did Grammy mean when she told Birdie to “just be a kid?” Has an adult ever said this to you?

Birdie kept looking behind her and took a roundabout route home after Stevie tried to push her into the water. Why?

Birdie thought Bowser was smart and that she could feel him thinking. Do you think dogs understand what their owner is thinking? Why or why not?

If you own a dog, compare your experiences with Birdie and Bowser. If you don’t own a dog, would you like to? Why or why not?

Woof is narrated by a dog. How did this affect your reading experience? Was it easier or more difficult to follow the story through the eyes of a dog? Have you previously read a story narrated by an animal? How did Woof compare with that one?

Rory told Birdie that he didn’t know anything about polkadots. What did he mean and why did he say it?

If you knew someone who snuck outside at night would you tell a friend or a grownup? Why or why not?

Did you figure out who Donny called when he returned from the swamp tour with Birdie, Bowser, and Grammy? If yes, what clues helped you?

How would the story be different if on the night when Birdie and Bowser followed the treasure map, Bowser’s barking had alerted Birdie to turn around and notice that someone had turned the Emporium’s lights on?

Did you figure out the smell that puzzled Bowser when Birdie and he were on Lafitte Creek? Did Bowser’s thinking about it help you – snaky, lizardy, froggy, toady, but not from those creatures?

Grammy told Birdie she had too much imagination. When Birdie asked if she got her imagination from her mom or dad, Grammy told Birdie “to just stick to our knitting.” What did Grammy mean?

Birdie lived with Grammy because her dad had died and her mom worked on an oil rig off the African coast. How would your life be different if this was your living arrangement?

Bowser wanted to “live large”. What does that mean to you?

Bowser thought that humans loved gadgets. In fact sometimes it seemed that they were part gadget. What do you think he meant?

Book Talk Teasers:

Begin on p. 106, “Stop the Gaux – we’ll spray it …” through the middle of p. 109.

Begin on p. 1. through p. 7.

Read Alikes:

Suspenseful; Plot-driven; Mystery stories and Girl detectives:
Keene, Carolyn. The secret of the old clock. Nancy Drew’s keen mind is tested when she searches for a missing will. (NoveList Plus)

Kittscher, Kristen. Wig in the window. When their game of neighborhood spying takes a dark turn one night, pre-teen sleuths Sophie Young and Grace Yang find themselves caught in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with their bizarre guidance counselor, who may be hiding something sinister. (NoveList Plus)

Suspenseful; Plot-driven; Mystery stories and Robbery:
Grisham, John. Theodore Boone: Accused. Thirteen-year-old aspiring lawyer Theodore Boone is falsely accused in a robbery and must fight to clear his name. (NoveList Plus)

Suspenseful; Mystery stories and Girl detectives:
Byars, Betsy Cromer. The dark stairs. The intrepid Herculeah Jones helps her mother, a private investigator, solve a puzzling and frightening case. (NoveList Plus)

Suspenseful; Mystery stories:
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Into the gauntlet. After crossing five continents and solving some of history’s most perplexing mysteries, Amy and Dan Cahill are nearing the end of their adventure. As the final clue promises to reveal the truth about the Cahill family’s awesome power, Amy and Dan must successfully complete a challenge that their ancestors have failed for nearly 500 years. (NoveList Plus)

Park, Linda Sue. Storm warning. When Amy and Dan learn the truth about the Madrigals and Grace Cahill’s alternate will, these discoveries lead to the revelation of a secret about their family and a showdown with the man in black who has been following them.(NoveList Plus)

Mystery stories; Plot-driven:
Chambliss Bertman, Jennifer. Book scavenger. Just after twelve-year-old Emily and her family move to San Francisco, she teams up with new friend James to follow clues in an odd book they find, hoping to figure out its secrets before the men who attacked Emily’s hero, publisher Garrison Griswold, solve the mystery or come after the friends. (NoveList Plus)

Mystery stories; Plot-driven; Suspenseful:
Yep, Laurence. The Case of the lion dance. When $2000 is stolen during the opening of a restaurant, Lily and her aunt, a Chinese American movie actress, search for the thief throughout San Francisco’s Chinatown. (NoveList Plus)

Mystery stories; Plot-driven; Suspenseful; Attention-grabbing:
Grisham, John. Theodore Boone: kid lawyer. Thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone has always dreamed of being a great trial lawyer someday, but a sensational murder trial forces him into the arena sooner than expected, and he is determined to see that justice prevails. (NoveList Plus)

Korman,Gordon. Framed. Griffin Bing is in big trouble when a Super Bowl ring disappears from his middle school’s display case, replaced by Griffin’s retainer, and the more he and his friends investigate, the worse his situation becomes. (NoveList Plus)

Mystery stories; Plot-driven; Fast-paced; Suspenseful:
Clements, Andrew. We the children. Sixth-grader Ben Pratt’s life is full of changes that he does not like–his parents’ separation and the plan to demolish his seaside school to build an amusement park–but when the school janitor gives him a tarnished coin with some old engravings and then dies, Ben is drawn into an effort to keep the school from being destroyed. (NoveList Plus)

Cronin, Doreen. The trouble with chickens: a J. J. Tully mystery. A hard-bitten former search-and-rescue dog helps solve a complicated missing chicken case. (NoveList Plus)

Sherry, Maureen. Walls within walls. When the Smithfork family moves into a lavish Manhattan apartment building, they discover clues to a decades-old mystery hidden behind the walls of their new home. (NoveList Plus)

Mystery stories; Plot-driven; Fast-paced; Intricately plotted; Suspenseful; Attention-grabbing:
Balliett, Blue. Chasing Vermeer. When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal. (NoveList Plus)

Mystery stories; Plot-driven; Fast-paced; Suspenseful; Attention-grabbing:
Riordan, Rick. Maze of bones. When their beloved aunt–matriarch of the world’s most powerful family–dies, orphaned siblings Amy and Dan Cahill compete with less honorable Cahill descendants in a race around the world to find cryptic clues to a mysterious fortune. Includes game cards which the reader may use to play an online version of the treasure hunt. (NoveList Plus)

Grabenstein, Chris. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s library. Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape. (NoveList Plus)

Mystery stories; Believable; Action-packed; Plot-driven; Fast-paced:
Messner, Kate. Capture the flag. When the original Star Spangled Banner is stolen, seventh-graders Anne, Jose, and Henry, all descendants of the Silver Jaguar Society, pursue suspects on airport carts and through baggage handling tunnels while stranded at a Washington, D.C., airport during a snowstorm. (NoveList Plus)

Ecofiction; Mystery stories; Plot-driven; Funny; Suspenseful; Attention-grabbing:
Hiaasen, Carl. Scat. Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing. (NoveList Plus)

First person narratives; Mystery stories; Realistic fiction; Plot-driven; Fast-paced; Suspenseful:
DeFelice, Cynthia C. The missing manatee. While coping with his parents’ separation, eleven-year-old Skeet spends most of Spring Break in his skiff on a Florida river, where he finds a manatee shot to death and begins looking for the killer. (NoveList Plus)

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. The house on the Gulf. A sixteen-year-old boy arranges a housesitting job for the summer, but he starts acting strangely after his family moves in, and his sister begins to suspect they are not supposed to be there. (NoveList Plus)


Book Reviews:

By Spencer Quinn.
2015. 304p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545643313); e-book, $16.99 (9780545643337). Gr. 3–5.
First published May 26, 2015 (Booklist Online).

Since Birdie’s dad died and her mom is often gone working on an oil rig, she lives with her grandmother, who operates Gaux Family Fish and Bait. For her birthday, Birdie gets to adopt slobbery, distractible mutt Bowser, but when they bring him home from the pound, they discover her grandmother’s prized stuffed marlin has been stolen from the wall of their store. After Bowser discovers a cigar butt by the boat dock, Birdie starts investigating the theft. Her prime suspect is Old Man Straker, their family’s archrival, but the sheriff brushes off her concerns. Undeterred, she keeps sleuthing and uncovers stories of a treasure map hidden in the marlin. Narrated by the flighty and unreliable Bowser, much of the book’s humor and foreshadowing comes thorough the dog’s flawed retelling of events. Quinn’s sense of place and cast of eccentric characters really shine through from Bowser’s perspective, and though the dog’s relentlessly poor memory wears thin at times, overall, the story is an engaging, promising start to a new middle-grade mystery series. —Suzanne Harold


Horn Book:
Quinn, Spencer Woof: A Bowser and Birdie Mystery
293 pp. Scholastic 2015. ISBN 978-0-545-64331-3

(3) 4-6 As in Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series for adults, Woof is written from a dog’s point of view. Bowser, a big, lovable mutt, adores Birdie, his new owner, and is determined to help her solve the mystery of her grandmother’s missing stuffed marlin. A possible hidden treasure, family secrets, and a hilarious dog combine to make this an entertaining Louisiana-bayou-set mystery. (Fall 2015 Guide)


School Library Journal:
Gr 3–6—Two humans, Birdie Gaux and her grandmother, are standing in front of Bowser’s cage at the shelter. It’s Birdie’s 11th birthday, and she’s there to pick out a pet. The girl automatically connects with mutt Bowser, even though Grammy and the woman running the shelter advise against him. Bowser is beside himself—he has connected with Birdie, too. Soon they are speeding along in Grammy’s beat up pick up truck, headed to St. Roch, LA. Before Bowser can even get settled in, he and Birdie have a mystery on their hands. Someone has stolen Grammy’s prized mounted marlin, Black Jack, from the wall of her bait and swamp tour shop. It turns out that Birdie’s small town harbors quite a few secrets and old family feuds. Bowser and Birdie must find Grammy’s prized marlin and dig into the age-old rumor that there is a treasure map sealed within Black Jack. Told from Bowser’s point of view, this hilarious story will elicit laughs from dog-loving kids as they recognize Bowser’s loyal yet rambunctious behavior. Reminiscent of Dug from the film Up, Bowser finds fun in every scrape he and Birdie get into, and he is devoted to Birdie from the start. VERDICT This suspenseful mystery filled with small-town characters takes readers to the very last pages, and the unresolved ending is a sure sign of more Bowser and Birdie books to come.—Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City