A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dog Man Unleashed is the second book in the lighthearted, goofy Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey, creator of the popular Captain Underpants series. The book is meant to look like it was made by and for fourth-graders, complete with grammatical errors and scribbles. This is an exercise in zaniness: The main characters are affectionate and demonstrate teamwork, but Pilkey prefers to offer silly fun for the sheer joy of it. Drawing lessons tucked inside may inspire young artists. The final pages promote a related app and Pilkey's other books. Dog Man Unleashed is a great choice for reluctant readers and comic book fans.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DOG MAN UNLEASHED starts with the police department planning a birthday surprise for the chief. The officers decide to give him "Brain Dots" (to make him smarter) and a new pet. The half-dog, half-human Dog Man unknowingly returns from the pet shop with an evil fish. When the fish eats the Brain Dots, it unleashes a series of disastrous events. A new thief in town starts stealing tiny treasure chests. Petey the Cat thinks the thief is copying him, so he makes a fake "Flat Petey" so he can escape from jail to confront the impostor. Then Flat Petey takes a witch doctor's "living spray" and "obey spray" and gets into mischief of his own. It's up to Dog Man, of course, to save the day.
Is it any good?
The second book in Dav Pilkey's freewheeling series about a half-man, half-dog police officer remains true to form: It's ridiculous, pure fun for reluctant readers and comic book fans alike. The plot in Dog Man Unleashed is more sprawling than the one in the first book, which presented Dog Man's origin story and a few short stories.
The appeal of Dog Man lies in his undeniable canine tendencies: He's always distracted by a ball, he licks bones, and his coworkers rev him up for an assignment the way you'd talk to a dog about to go for a walk. Pilkey -- best known for his Captain Underpants series, a kid favorite often criticized by grown-ups -- cheerfully ends the book by celebrating the "mindless action" and lack of life lessons. Kids will enjoy the silly puns (which/witch doctor, tax/tacks) and goofy plot devices. Pilkey is always on the side of his young readers, and his books are a gift for kids who love reading graphic novels and comics.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the artwork in Dog Man Unleashed. Does it look like something you could draw? How is it different?
How does the artwork in a good graphic novel help the story? Would stories like this work without the pictures?
Kids can try creating their own flip-o-rama or full comic.
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