Doggo and Pupper

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
ISBN: 9781250620972
Publisher Age Rating: 5-7

NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)

Agent Moose

Although there’s a long tradition of goofy animal detectives, the wild success of Dav Pilkey’s Dogman series has inspired a fresh spurt and this latest furry investigator is a hilarious addition to the genre.

Mo O’Hara’s signature humor is well-established in previous series like My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, and she’s teamed up with British artist Jess Bradley for her first graphic novel. Special Agent Anonymoose and his sidekick, Not-Quite-So-Special Agent Owlfred are introduced via their personnel files. Then the first chapter starts with a, well, he meant well… ok, it was a disaster. Instead of successfully solving his 100th case, Anonymoose has flopped, big time. As Owlfred says, “It wasn’t technically a crime, sir. More of a meteorological event.” To add insult to injury, Anonymoose is ordered down to headquarters to help celebrate the 100th case of his rival Camo Chameleon, and clean up the loose ends of Camo’s last case by finding a missing turtle who’s needed as a witness.

Anonymoose has the disguises, Owlfred has the smarts, and together they’re one great team. Can they solve the mystery, put up with Camo’s boasting, and prove that Anonymoose has what it takes to complete his 100th case? Or will they disappear before they solve all the strange happenings?

The silly text, full of jokes, puns, and general hilarity, is complemented by Bradley’s goofy art. Anonymoose’s disguises are each funnier than the last, and will keep readers giggling as they quickly find him disguised as a palm tree, giant turtle, and more while the onlookers are completely fooled. Owlfred reluctantly goes along, getting dressed up as a complementary coconut and other wacky disguises that fit his small owl form, and even use his big, wire-rimmed glasses. The art is bright and colorful with lots of action and movement among the plethora of animal characters and many dramatic close-ups as Revelations Are Made. The speech bubbles and panels are easy to follow and the bold art and simple lines work together well with the intermediate text for readers not yet ready to tackle more complex graphic novels. The chapter headings are included on each page, along with moose tracks and owl feathers, so readers can keep track of how far they’ve gotten in the story and the goofy fun comes full circle with another newspaper headline, this time about Anonymoose and Owlfred’s success.

This is pure fun and I laughed all the way through. It’s got some gentle lessons about paying attention to the facts and looking below the surface and Anonymoose does learn to appreciate the rather stereotyped Owlfred more, especially when he’s gone and Anonymoose realizes he hasn’t always been the good friend he should have been. Although most of the characters who are given a gender are designated as male, the head of Special Branch is a very snazzy skunk in pant suit and pearls. This is sure to be wildly popular with both Dogman fans and Mo O’Hara’s own readers. The next volume in the series is planned for 2021, so be ready for Anonymoose and Owlfred’s next exciting case!

Agent Moose 1
By Mo O’Hara
Art by Jess Bradley
ISBN: 9781250222213
Feiwel and Friends, 2020
Publisher Age Rating:
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)