26 August is International Dog Day, and what better way to celebrate than review a book featuring a dog? Well, reviewing a book featuring a dog who’s an attorney of course! Mrs R. Snugglesworth, Attorney-at-Law by Amy Flanagan and illustrated by Jon Davis is an imaginative and fun little children’s title which can be enjoyed by adults as well.
My thanks to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.
Mrs R Snugglesworth is a 70-pound ‘butter colored English Labrador Retriever’, who lives happily with her family for whom she has her own names, the Kitchen (mom), the Vacuum (Dad) and kids, eleven-year-old ‘Snicker’, and ‘Crunchy’, who’s eight. As she (not only our ‘heroine’ but also the narrator of out tale) tells us, her first few years have been spent doing the usual dog things, but now, she wishes to do more. Crossword-puzzle champion, ski instructor, electrician, are some of the options that cross her mind, but one day at the local Bark Park, she finds herself doing jury duty at the dog court (among the many activities that dogs engage in when they congregate at the doggie park, in case you were wondering) and this experience decides her. She must become an attorney-at-law, dog law that is! So she enrols at Wagsworth Legal Academy (also at the Bark Park) with plans to be the Best. There though, she’s paired up with Maple Lane for classes and he turns out to be ultra-competitive and constantly trying to pull her down.
Meanwhile as she’s just starting to attend lectures, she comes across a dog Pitter Patter who’s been unfairly accused of breaking dog law and is up for trial in a few days time. While not yet a qualified lawyer (dog law classes last for only 7 days, but there are tests to be undergone to qualify at the end), Mrs R Snugglesworth volunteers her services and begins to investigate the allegations against Pitter Patter, while trying to keep up with her classes alongside. But things start to go less than perfectly, for while she’s determined to practice her skills, she gets distracted when her humans offer belly rubs, and then interesting food found in the street throws her completely off course. With all this to contend with, does she get through law school? Can she help clear Pitter Patter’s name?
What an absolutely delightful and fun story this was. A quick read at under a hundred pages, this also has some great black and white illustrations by Jon Davis which includes a lovely couple of pages at the start with the entire cast of characters (only the canine ones, mind).
I loved that Flanagan has created this inventive and entertaining story staying entirely within the ‘ordinary’ realm—we do not get transported to a dogs-only land nor are the characters anthropomorphised. We stay very much in this world, and all of the dogs behave very much like dogs—enjoying their walks, pats, play time and time with their humans, trats found by chance on the street, interactions with their doggie pals, but still must act at all times within the requirements of dog laws, violations of which can result in some very serious punishments. If proven of course.
The classes that Mrs Snugglesworth undergoes at the academy are a great deal of fun, and I especially liked how these combined dog and human elements. For instance, skills like ‘being invisible’ must be practiced, but alongside they also have lectures on precedents where Case Law (including The Case of the Killer Paw) is discussed in detail. While these were two classes we get to ‘attend’, there are also classes on Stealth Evidence gathering and Forensics among others and the instructors include Dr Shadow and Torts!
Mrs R. Snugglesworth starts off with her work very well arranging things so that she can investigate Pitter Patter’s case as well, but she is after all a dog at heart and gets distracted when there is temptation in the way. This made her a character I felt children too would appreciate better since she is ‘realistic’ if that makes sense. She does do her best to set things right, and it is fun watching her tackle both her law degree and the case, when time is short and mistakes have already been made. She does have some good luck along the way, but this doesn’t mean she gets things easily for she has to face challenges as well.
I enjoyed myself thoroughly reading this book, and found it both amusing and clever (with the exception of one term that is used—imaginative yes, but not to my taste). I think from one possible development/observation towards the end, we can expect a sequel too, which I’d love to read whenever it’s out.
Copy reviewed: kindle ebook, via NetGalley, BooksGoSocial, 99pp.