Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway
Rachel Maguire (Illustrator)
Simon and Schuster, 2015 283 pgs.
Galactic Hot Dogs series
Fasten your seat belt for the zaniest ride around the galaxy ever! Meet our hero, Cosmoe, a human boy who wears an alien blob on his wrist, named Goober, that helps him to fight, and his companion Humphree, an over-sized alien pirate with a big heart. They travel through outer space in their hot dog shaped spaceship, which doubles as a food truck. While stopping off on Space Port Funketown for an Intergalatic Food Truck Cook-Off, they pick up a stow-away: evil Princess Dagger. Princess Dagger is tired of being evil, but her mother, the evil queen, won't let her be anything but. Princess Dagger longs for the lifestyle Cosmoe and Humphree share; traveling around at their own pace and finding adventures. The three friends get themselves in and out of a lot of trouble involving Alien Zombie Pirates, treasure hunting, worm wrestling, and an extreme video game competition battling all the most evil characters in the Galaxy. Finally, the plot comes to a head as Princess Dagger must face up to her mother and make a choice between being good and evil. Throughout all the dangerous exploits, Cosmoe and company are searching for pieces of a puzzle that, once gathered and put together, unleashes an ultimate evil monster. The trio must battle the Ultimate Evil Monster by putting into practice a cunning plan involving Humphree's special hot sauce. Unfamiliar terms and places are explained by super computer companion F.R.E.D., who has interesting facts to contribute at the end of each chapter. The book ends with the promise of more adventures to come, as well as a menu for Galactic Hot Dogs and a detailed map of Brallier's Galaxy for kids to pour over.
The action never stops in this adrenalin-filled, action-packed adventure. A comic/fiction hybrid, Galactic Hot Dogs is more Captain Underpants than Wimpy Kid, in that there is an equal reliance on illustrations as text to tell the story. Cartoon illustration are offered on every page, making the book feel like a comic book. But, don't rule this book out as merely a comic book: there is enough text to make it a worth-while read and a perfect choice for reluctant readers. This is the perfect book for a fifth-grade boy who doesn't like to read, but plays a lot of video games and watches non-stop Cartoon Network. That said, almost-fifty-year-old librarians will like it too. I found myself laughing out-loud at some of the clever puns and was highly entertained from start to finished. My non-reading husband, who I think sometimes was emotionally stunted at eleven years old, found the book lying around the house, picked it up, and started reading it--and was laughing out loud. So, this book is sure to be very successful and will find a ready made audience. The partnership of the illustration and the text is perfect. It feels like the same person contributed both. The situations and characters, although ridiculous, have nods to other serious science fiction movies and authors. The humor is both clever and slapstick, offering something for everyone. Brallier has a great imagination and introduces many new expletives, such as "What the smudge?" and Oh, bones!", that will have kids happily slinging at each other on the playground. As I was reading along, I felt that Cosmoe was familiar. I realized that he reminds me of Finn from Adventure Time. The characters talk like the characters from Adventure Time, Humphree feels a bit like Jake, and Princess Dagger feels a bit like Princess Bubblegum. Come to find out, Max Ballier has written Adventure Time comic books, so it must be part of his writing style. If the crew of the Neon Wiener feels familiar, all the better to lure young reluctant cartoon-watching readers in. Brallier has already created a presence on www.funbrain.com (the site which launched Wimpy Kid) and has an on-line following ready to read this book. More offerings in the series are to follow giving fans a place to go when they finish this first exciting installment.