Anh Do (text), Dan McGuiness (illus.), Hotdog! (Hotdog #1), Scholastic Australia, 1 Nov 2016, 122pp., $12.95 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760279004
This perky cover of lime green and silver promises an up-beat tale (pun intended) featuring cartoon-like animal characters facing problems with ingenuity and tenacity and always winning out in the end.
Fast-paced and easy to read, with a spare text liberally laced with line drawings pepped-up with more lime green, this book will attract readers who are looking for a not-too-demanding story in six short chapters.
The main character, Hotdog, is a dachshund. McGuiness’s drawings of this short-legged canine reminded me very much of a classic (1944) children’s book I had as a child, called Pretzel by Margret Rey, illustrated by illustrated by H.A. Rey.
Hotdog’s adaptability and tenacity are his main characteristics. At the beginning of the story, he is suffering a blocked nose with associated loss of olfactory ability. When an enormous sneeze restores this deficit part-way through chapter six, the plot is then able to move through to a satisfactory conclusion.
The other characters include Kevin, an overweight lazy cat, Lizzie, a lizard with superior camouflage abilities, and a lost baby bird. The challenge of the group is to reunite the baby bird with his mother. This results in many mad-cap journeys and a happy ending.
The personality of multi-talented Vietnamese-born Australian author Anh Do shines through. This is a book of humorous energy, diverse characters and relentless optimism.
Note: Librarians attempting to catalogue the book using the small font printed in white on a lime green background on the verso will need a magnifying glass to read the print.
Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke