CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 6 . . . .November 9, 2007
Hot Dog and Bob and the Surprisingly Slobbery Attack of the Dog-Wash Doggies: Adventure #5.
L. Bob Rovetch. Illustrated by Dave Whamond.
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2007.
94 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (lib. ed.).
ISBN 978-0-8118-5746-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-8118-5745-1 (lib. ed.).
Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.
Review by Karen Rankin.
"Look, Doris," Stanley said, pointing at Clementine. "That yellow-haired female looks like a healthy one."
"Although her nose isn't terribly attractive," said Doris. "She's obviously not show quality."
"Still," said Stanley. "I betcha plenty of owners would like a chubby little mutt like her."
"Chubby little mutt?" said Clementine. "Did he just call me a chubby little mutt?"
"Let's not rush into things, Stanley," said Doris. "Just look around this place. We have so many adorable children to choose from."
"Are these guys talking about what I think they're talking about?" Clementine whispered.
"No need to whisper, dear," said Doris. "We dogs have a highly developed sense of hearing. And if you were thinking we're talking about choosing children to bring back to our needy pet owners back home on Bowwowwowwow, then, yes – you'd be exactly right!"
Bob's grade five class is in the middle of their dog wash fund-raiser when Doris and Stanley, two dogs wearing uniforms, come to Bob's 'greet and collect money' stand, order washes, and pay for them themselves. Bob – no stranger to alien invasions – immediately considers the dogs' behaviour suspicious. He runs to find his best friend, Clementine. He and Clementine have been chosen by the leader of planet Dogzalot to be the Earth partners of Hot Dog, a "forgetful" Dogzalot superhero. No sooner have Bob and Clementine discovered the reason for the two strange dogs' visit to Earth, than Clementine disappears, leaving Bob angry and alone. Hot Dog is also nowhere to be found, and after Bob sees the special powers of Stanley's slobbery chew bone – which pops the children into impenetrable bubble cages – he is desperate for help. When Hot Dog does finally show up, he decides it's too late to make a plan. Hoping to free all of the children, Hot Dog and Bob charge Doris and Stanley. Stanley manages to disarm Hot Dog and tie up our two heroes. That's when Clementine reappears in a dog disguise. She is able to "sneakily sneak" Stanley's chew bone from his back pocket. Once she delivers the chew bone to Bob, he figures out how to reverse the spells put on him and Hot Dog, as well as how to trap Stanley and Doris. Hot Dog then releases all of the other children who are about to be transported to planet Bowwowwowwow. For risking her life to return to help Hot Dog and Bob, Clementine is awarded Dogzalot's 'highest medal of honor, the Royal Purple Potato of Bravery.'
Hot Dog and Bob and the Surprisingly Slobbery Attack of the Dog-Wash Doggies is the fifth in Lissa Bob Rovetch's series of beginner chapter books. Illustrator Dave Whamond's full-colour cover picture once again captures the story's main characters with vibrant energy. This, plus Whamond's animated black and white illustrations – which fill half of the approximately 90-page book – will likely attract even reluctant readers.
There are some appealing and unexpected developments in The Surprisingly Slobbery Attack: Stanley and Doris fall in love, the personal background of Hot Dog is explored, and Stanley explains how the dogs on Bowwowwowwow put their "cute little people pets…out to pasture" when they grow up – too often the sad fate of our own dogs and cats. Still, following book #4, The Surprisingly Slobbery Attack is a bit of a disappointment. Rovetch's recurring characters – such as Hot Dog, Bob, class bully Barfalot, and Clementine – although simply drawn, are quite credible. However, Hot Dog and Bob are somewhat less convincing in book #5. For instance, previously Bob has described his best friend, Clementine, as "cool" and "not the type to walk out on anything." One, therefore, wonders why he would decide that Clementine has ditched him for good within mere seconds of her disappearance in The Surprisingly Slobbery Attack. And the formerly memory-impaired Hot Dog, although somewhat absent-minded in this story, does not have the same weird and wacky sense of what's up that he did in book #4. Also, the pace of the story is slowed by a gratuitous discussion of the proper spelling of 'visitor' – with a 't' not a 'g.' And finally, in The Surprisingly Slobbery Attack, narrator Bob too often resorts to clichés. For instance, Barfalot and his goons "aren't the sharpest tools in the shed," and the words used to activate Stanley's chew stick "worked like a charm." The Surprisingly Slobbery Attack appears to be primarily for boys; however – especially given Clementine's involvement – it should appeal to girls, too.
Recommended with reservations.
Karen Rankin is a Toronto, ON, writer and editor of children's stories.
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