CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 5 . . . . October 26, 2007
One recess, fifth-grader Bob can’t find his friend, Clementine. When he starts asking around for her, he discovers that everyone seems to have lost someone! And, in practically no time, Bob is the last kid standing in the playground. One moment he is pondering the problem; the next, he’s crashing down a pretzel-shaped slide. He lands in some sort of scary game in which a big, freshly-hatched “reptilian creature” chases him. Luckily, Bob isn’t new to strange adventures: the Big Bun – leader of Dogzalot, a peace-loving planet that makes the universe a safer place – has previously chosen him to be the Earth partner of Hot Dog, a memory-impaired Dogzalot superhero. But, this time, Hot Dog is nowhere to be found. Bob manages to elude the reptile and finds Clementine in a room with a giant egg. When Bob and Clementine realize that they’re supposed to race against each other in “The Gator Game,” they make a plan to team up. Just then, the giant egg hatches and out pops Mr. G., the biggest alligator in the universe! Bob and Clementine have met aliens before, but Mr. G. – an accomplished rapper – is the “freakiest.” He’s having none of Bob and Clementine’s tricks: “Nobody messes with Mr. G! Did you think you could outsmart me? Without a loser this game’s no fun. So you can say good-bye. Your days are done!” Just as Bob and Clementine are about to be eaten, “the flying weenie” comes to their rescue. With Hot Dog’s help, they find their classmates who have been trapped inside clear egg-shells by Mr. G. The first classmate Hot Dog manages to save – by shooting a bit of sauerkraut and mustard – is Barfalot, “a dirty, rotten bully.” Barfalot thinks Mr. G. is “the coolest guy” ever. He’d like to go back to Mr. G’s planet and play games with him “forever and ever,” but Hot Dog is sworn to help ALL humans. After Hot Dog and Bob save the day, Clementine observes that Mr. G. “was nothing more than a lonely, oversized alligator looking for someone to play with.”
Hot Dog and Bob and the Exceptionally Eggy Attack of the Game Gators is the fourth in Lissa Bob Rovetch’s zany series of beginner chapter books. Illustrator Dave Whamond’s full-colour cover picture captures the story’s main characters with vibrant energy. This, plus the lively and expressive black and white illustrations scattered liberally throughout the book, will undoubtedly attract even reluctant readers. Though the story moves at a rip-roaring pace, the author has still managed to create convincing characters in “regular boring Bob,” cool Clementine, rapper Mr. G., and generally reliable though unpredictable Hot Dog. Peripheral characters, such as Barfalot and his two goons, Pigburt and Slugburt, draw largely on stereotypes, but for this 94-page book – which includes approximately 40 pages of illustrations – they work, too. The book has an underlying message about bullies that is clear yet not preachy. Hot Dog and Bob appears to be primarily for boys; however, it will probably appeal to girls, too, especially given Clementine – Bob’s best friend and assistant earth-partner to Hot Dog. Thanks to Whamond’s illustrations, it is not difficult to imagine the adventures of Hot Dog and Bob becoming a TV cartoon some day.
Karen Rankin is a Toronto writer and editor of children’s stories.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.