Dog Man Book 1 HC
Publisher: Scholastic/Graphix
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Price: $19.99
Creator: Dav Pilkey
Format: 240 pgs., Full-Color, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-5455-8160-8
Age Rating: 7+
ICv2 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

This book seemed like a clever combination of Pilkey's normal work with the deranged, childlike logic of the early Axe Cop comic strips.  The story often defies normal logic in favor of things that happen because a young child is writing the story, and Pilkey has captured that very well.

In this case, Dog Man is the survivor of a police officer and his canine companion, with only enough salvageable parts left to create one being.  So, Dog Man has a human body with a dog's head sewed on. Pilkey's delightful artwork even includes the stitches, visible throughout the story.

Even with a dog's head, the character manages to solve crimes, many of them caused by a feline mad scientist [of course] who is truly too smart for his own good.  The humor of the stories depends less on gross-out humor and more on just goofiness, which will cause the story to appeal to kids who have come to humor through current cartoon shows.  The closest thing to sophistication here is when the evil cat tries to make everyone else stupid, and overdoes it.  Some of the gags are more subtle than expected, and at least one is inserted for the benefit of parents, because kids won't get the reference at the heart of a really complex pun.

Kids old enough to read chapter books, and older kids who have fond memories of Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta are the target audience for this new series.  Adults who view Captain Underpants as being too gross will enjoy the shift in the style of humor.  Only the kids who just want gross-out humor will be disappointed.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.