Our children don’t need any encouragement in the area of scatalogical humor, but here we all have been anyway, laughing through the pages of Dav Pilkey’s new Dog Man. (Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame.) That is to say–this book would not be something to read to your four-year-old daughter. Unless, uh, she had two older brothers and was already unfazed by such humor.
Case in point:
Dog Man, as Pilkey tells it, is the creation of George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two comic-writing friends whose teacher, Ms. Construde, clearly does not appreciate their “disruptive activity in my classroom.” All my kids love it, of course.
The premise itself is a little more violent than I would have liked for my (or any) kids: Dog Man is born when the evil cat Petey blows up Officer Knight and his dog Greg:
Doctor: I’m sorry Greg, but your body is dying. and your head is dying too, cop.
Officer: Rats! I sure hate my dying head!
But just when all seemed lost…
Nurse Lady: Hey! Why don’t we sew Greg’s head onto cop’s body?
Doctor: Good idea, nurse lady! You’re a genius!
Here “a brand-new crime-fighting sensation was unleashed.”
Dog Man the character is about what you would expect from somebody who is half man, half dog. He battles Petey, then Robo Chief, and then a giant, walking Philly cheesesteak mascot in chapter 4, “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” This last chapter was probably the funniest and best part of the book. Sample lines:
OH look! Little baby hot dogs are starting a revolution!!!!
We’re not little babies! we’re regular sized!
(Their subsequent claim to be “gangsta” will go over kids’ heads and seems to unfortunately engage in cultural appropriation.)
A fun feature that comes up at several points is the “Flip-O-Rama,” where you can create a little bit of animation by quickly flipping between pages. At this moment I’m looking at the book’s warning: “Remember—Flip it, Don’t Rip it!!!!!!”, which happens to be right next to a newly made rip in our edition. Oh, well.
The section in the back of the book with “How 2 Draw” different characters is icing on the cake.
For how inexpensive the book is, I was pleasantly surprised to see a sewn binding. The colors are vibrant and the lettering is what you would expect from Dav-Pilkey-as-two-kids-writing-a-comic. It inspired my own kids to write their own. (Details forthcoming, or maybe we’ll just try for a book deal.)
If you’re trying to avoid scatological humor, don’t get this book. If you’ve maybe slacked a little with your standards for your kids in that regard, they’ll probably love Dog Man.
Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.