apocalypseProimos is known for his snarky, quirky stories, from the wacky Johnny Mutton to picture books like Swim Swim and Todd’s TV. This story is no exception, except that it’s possibly stranger than any of his previous works.

Weird things are happening outdoors, but pet dogs Brownie and Apollo are more concerned with who gets to lie on the couch, who’s a mutt, and when they’ll get fed. But then the water bowl goes dry and it seems it’s been an awfully long time since they were fed. Finally, the two realize they must go and find the people. But how to get out? Will licking the doorknob do the trick? Spoiler Alert: Licking the doorknob does not do the trick, but they get out anyway! Now they’re outside and free and they will find the people and there will be food and…uh-oh, things are not right at all. Fortunately, there are lots of other dogs around for them to team up with. Unfortunately, not all of them are friendly. Will they ever find out what happened to the people? Will they survive eating 2,374 Twonkies cakes? Who will be top dog in the climactic battle of the grocery store?

Each page features a single black and white illustration, some divided into smaller panels, but most are a single panel. Instead of chapters, the book is divided into “scenes” and each one is introduced by a plain gray panel with the scene number on it. This definitely gives the book a movie-like feel, with each scene being more of a short vignette than a continuation of the overall plot. The art style is very scribbly, with all of the dogs having distinctive long noses and short legs, but varied body sizes. There is not a lot of detail in the backgrounds, just enough to let you know when the dogs are inside, outside, or at the grocery store. It can be difficult to keep track of which dog is speaking, especially when they have similar exaggerated facial features. The cartoon illustrations are funny, but I found myself wanting more detail in the illustrations as a whole, and a better idea of what was going on in the story.

I felt like this was really supposed to be funny, but ultimately it just wasn’t. It was very quirky and there were lots of jokes, like the flea giving military advice from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, or Brownie’s completely clueless behavior in licking doorknobs to make doors open. The scenery was very desolate and the black and white art seemed to make the art even more depressing overall. I felt like I was missing something that would make this spoof of apocalyptic fiction actually humorous and not so existential. Middle grade kids who like really snarky, off the wall humor and are familiar with the tropes of apocalyptic movies and books will probably appreciate this, but it’s not something I would expect to find an immediate audience for in my library.

Apocalypse Bow Wow
by James Proimos III
Art by James Proimos Jr.
ISBN: 9781619634428
Bloomsbury, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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