Doggo and Pupper is the first book in what will certainly become a popular new early reader chapter book series. Acclaimed novelist Katherine Applegate, famous primarily for fantasy and animal characters featured in books like The One and Only Ivan, the Endling trilogy, and the Animorphs series, makes a successful debut into early reader fiction with Doggo and Pupper. The volume features seven short chapters of simple prose text, with each page fully illustrated. Charlie Adler’s illustrations perfectly complement the story, adding detail and whimsy that make this book a delightful offering for young readers.
Doggo is the trusty family dog who finds his mundane and predictable life quite satisfactory, if a little boring. His family starts to think he might need a little more excitement, though, and they think bringing home a new puppy, Pupper, is just the thing. Doggo soon grows frustrated with Pupper, who is silly, messy, and untrained. Doggo’s ever-present companion Cat reminds Doggo that he used to be a little more carefree himself, but he doesn’t seem to recall those days. After the family sends Pupper to charm school, the younger dog’s behavior changes drastically. He seems like a perfect pup. But has he changed too much? Maybe Doggo needs to show him how to have fun again while reminding himself at the same time.
Charlie Alder’s artwork is winsome and expressive. His illustrations illuminate Doggo’s daily activities in a humorous fashion showing us all the adventures even an older dog might have when his humans aren’t around, e.g. baking, dancing, toilet drinking. Each character is portrayed with a clear personality: Doggo, relaxed and settled; Pupper, fresh and energetic; Cat, the voice of reason. The images are cartoonish and warm, and the emphasis is clearly on the pets rather than their owners. While we see the people, it’s never their faces, but rather their legs and torsos that are featured. The animals also walk upright and use human mannerisms. Their postures and expressions are entertaining and give the book a very whimsical quality.
Young readers will really enjoy Doggo and Pupper and will look forward to more books in the series. The chapter divisions are well-placed, with clear titles, making the book accessible for young readers. The heartwarming story and humorous illustrations combine to create a winning product. This is surely the start of a lasting collaboration for Applegate and Alder, and readers will be clamoring for more adventures from Cat, Doggo, and Pupper. This series is a great investment for all youth and elementary school libraries.
Doggo and Pupper
By Katherine Applegate
Art by Charlie Alder
Feiwel and Friends, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 5-7
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)