If you have young kids, then you’ve probably heard the name Dav Pilkey. You may not be able to pronounce his name, but you’ll know it when you see it. He’s the witty author of many picture books and stories meant for an older audience, a number of which have shown up on several “favorites” lists. He’s the creator of an underwear-clad superhero boy named Captain Underpants and two dogs – one big and the other little – who like to wear sweaters and go for walks. He’s also the creator of a character named Hally Tosis.
Hally Tosis is the main character in Dog Breath! The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis. Hally is a sweet, lovable family pet whose breath is so bad that Mr. and Mrs. Tosis are forced to give her away. Hally’s breath isn’t just bad; it’s toxic. One time, Hally’s breath knocks down Grandma Tosis. The Tosis kids do everything in their power to save their beloved dog by taking her on a rollercoaster that is supposedly so fast that it makes its riders lose their breath. They also take Hally to a movie billed as a story that will leave the audience breathless, and so on. She’s ultimately saved because she proves her worth as a watchdog. Her putrid breath stops a pair of robbers who break into the Tosis home.
Dav Pilkey uses witty wordplay to create this funny story. His trademarked punchy illustrations, which use bright colors with heavy black outlines, perfectly complement the zany things that happen in this book. The author definitely goes for the lowbrow humor that’s sure to be a hit among the four- to eight-year-olds who read his wildly popular stories.
There are two different levels of comedy in this book, but they seem to mesh well together, and neither one of them is subtle. Your kids will giggle at the pictures of those who suffer Hally’s breath, and adults will have a laugh at the more sophisticated puns in Dog Breath! The Horrible Story with Hally Tosis. Although this is really a one-joke book, children and their parents seem to find it a hilarious read.