Anh Do (text), Dan McGuiness (illus.), Circus Time! (Hotdog #3), Scholastic Australia, 1 Nov 2017, 128pp., $12.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760279028
Hot Dog and his best friends Lizzie (the lizard) and Kevin (the fat cat) have seen adventures together in the past. This time Lizzie has decided that she wants to spend time with her sister – the famous trapeze artist who performs with the circus that is currently in town. The prospect of leaving her friends behind and running away with the circus leaves Lizzie, Hot Dog and Kev all feeling somewhat down in the dumps, but in a display of true, supportive friendship the boys help Lizzie to live her dream.
This book for young readers is, in many ways, an extended picture book. The illustrations support and enhance the readers understanding of the story and tell a story in their own right. The structure (including chapters) gives the idea of a longer and more significant text, however it is reasonable to sit through a verbal reading of the whole thing with a much younger reader (my son – nearly 5 LOVED having it read to him and sat, eagerly listening, through to the end).
Hot Dog balances fun, silliness, gentle life lessons and contemporary language in just the right measure. It is ‘cool’ enough for the kids to love it, and if they decided to emulate Do’s writing style, the teachers at school would be quite happy too. The characters and plot are cleverly managed and this book could appeal to both genders across a large age range: 5 (being read to) to 12 (independent lower ability readers). Overall a well written, fun read with plenty of scope for putting on crazy voices.
Reviewed by Katie Bingham