Following series opener Digby O’Day in the Fast Lane (2014), Hughes and Vulliamy’s canine duo are off on another adventure, this time featuring a classy seaside hotel, a secret passage, a singing starlet with a taste for shiny jewels, and a pair of (feline) cat burglars.
As before, there’s an old-fashioned feel to both text and pictures. When Digby tells Percy about their upcoming trip, the smaller dog is troubled because the only dinner jacket he owns “belonged to my Uncle Gus [and it’s] moth-eaten and has a couple of gravy stains….” Soon enough they are on the road, and the plot rolls along briskly, if coincidentally, from a near miss with a large, dark car (license plate “Bad 2”) to their ignominious arrival at the hotel and serendipitous rescue of a fellow beach walker. Next come the glamorous entrance of Peaches Meow, a robbery at the hotel, and, finally, a visit to a local home that includes a trip down through a tunnel to a smugglers’ cave. Vignettes, single-, and double-page illustrations, created with pencil, ink, and digital collage, provide clues and amplify the mild humor. Emerging readers may nonetheless struggle with some of the sophisticated vocabulary and the unfamiliar setting.
Smooth writing, appealing pictures, and (mostly) mild action create a pleasant enough package, but it’s still likely to be a bit twee for some readers. (map, authors’ note, quiz, first chapter of Digby O’Day Up, Up, and Away) (Fiction. 6-8)