Plot: Police officer Dogman (half man, half dog) clashes with nemesis Petey the cat across four independent chapters and 200+ pages of boldly illustrated graphics.
Child Enjoyment: 10/10 A euphoric mix of madcap hijinks and crude humor. For a certain type of child, it’s kiddie catnip. My child is totally the target demographic..
Parental Enjoyment: 4/10 I am not the target demographic. I was maybe never the target demographic.
Age Appropriate: The six-year-old LOVES it.
Pain Factor: Yeah, okay, so here’s the thing about Dogman:
Have you ever read a book out loud to your kid, aware, even as the words are leaving your mouth, that you have just unintentionally uploaded some undesirable content into their lexicon? That’s Dogman. My son’s personal favorite (and there were oh-so-many to choose from): “Me go boom boom in my panties.” Boy, does he think that’s some funny shit. You might too. Now, however, imagine that phrase repeated during Thanksgiving dinner. At the doctor’s office. To the Starbucks barista. As it turns out, there are so many potential forums.
On the other hand, the kid loves the book, and part of the reason why he loves the book is because “Somebody pooed in your office!” is a typical plot point. The kid loves Dogman so much he sat and read an entire chapter out loud to me this evening. It took him half an hour, but darned if he didn’t plough through the whole thing mostly unassisted. That’s some kind of miracle. How bad can a book be if it encourages a 6-year-old to read?
Then again: “Me go boom boom in my panties.”
Story Assessment: According to the book’s conceit, Dogman was written and illustrated by George and Harold, the fourth-grade auteurs who also brought you the adventures of Captain Underpants. In keeping with this conceit, the pictures are charming, graphic and unsophisticated, and the word choice, well, choice. The book is divided into four independent Dogman adventures, all with similar structures. A villain – usually the dastardly Petey the cat, or a henchman thereof – uses some wacky new technology to wreck havoc upon the town. Mad hijinks ensue, before Petey is ultimately subdued by Dogman and returned to jail. I repeat: the child finds it all very enjoyable.
In summation: I want my kid to love to read, and if what he loves to read is Dogman, so be it.
You can buy Dogman by George and Harold – I mean, by Dav Pilkey – at Amazon.