Hot Dog 8 : Art time! by Anh Do
Illus. by Dan McGuiness. Scholastic, 2020. ISBN: 9781743836521.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. The target audience for this series, is clearly early chapter book readers for a whole host of reasons but none moreso than the existence of a world of talking animals named for their own species - with the exception of Kev (the cat). Kev, Hot Dog and Lizzie are of one mind - to foil Rooster and Donkey who have stolen the Llama Lisa from the art gallery. Yes, even famous artworks reverse anthropomorphize into identifiable animal parodies.
Anh Do has successfully projected his speech and humour into another fictional narrator. Whilst description is thin around the active events, Hot Dog's wordplay and dialogue make him thoroughly and ingeniously credible to children. The three friends support each other with their growth mindsets and do the things they haven't been able to do "yet" - overcoming fears, building confidence and problem solving to locate the bad guys, and rescue the famous painting in the less familiar setting of the Creepy Castle Fun Park.
The bold words and phrases and Dan McGuiness' cartoons will add to the visual provocation of the retro pink monochrome design. Modern Junior school readers will lap up Australia's answer to their grandparent's favourite books made so exciting by a dash of colour. Another successful collaboration with a new artist is telling, given this author's grasp of artistic skills is not restricted to theory, colour and passionate language surrounding art. This is a collaborative author worthy of our children. Read 2 or 3 chapters to a class and be prepared for endless requests and reservations for this series.