Smart Review | Galactic Hot Dogs
By Mary Ryerse & Luke Ryerse
What do you get when you combine a space adventure, a cartoon-heavy graphic novel format and a hot dog (yes really, a hot dog)? Well, in our house it led to an engaged reader with his nose in the Galactic Hot Dog book series by Max Brallier, Rachel Maguire and Nichole Kelley.
If you are looking for some good winter break reading recommendations for upper-elementary age kids, this may be your tip. You or your students/kids may recognize the Galactic Hot Dogs name from its start as a Funbrain digital adventure or from its presence on Poptropica.
The focus of this blog—co-written by our 9-year-old son Luke and myself—is on Books 1 & 2 of the Galactic Hot Dog series: Galactic Hot Dogs 1: Cosmoe’s Wiener Getaway and Galactic Hot Dogs 2: The Wiener Strikes Back.
What Mom liked best about this book
- Action Orientated. As a mom of three boys, I know that action is often important to keep their attention as readers.
- A Dose of SEL. The strong friendships stood out to our son—the characters showed evidence of social and emotional learning (SEL) as they looked out for each other, kept each other positive and showed kindness.
- Classic Plot. These books feature a classic “good vs. evil” plot that’s relatively easy to follow.
- Independent Reading. When looking at reading levels, graphic novels and comic books often stand in a category of their own. For example, the Lexile is preceded by a GN code. This is GN 570L.
- Graphic Novel Format. This format makes it feel like you’re reading a comic. The impact of the thought bubbles, pictures and comics on reading comprehension is typically positive (in the case of Luke, I’d say it increased his engagement). A typical page display is included below.
From a mom perspective, this was not a book that makes me excited to read along. But perhaps the best part was that I didn’t have to. Luke was independent in both his motivation and his reading. I recall feeling that way about the Captain Underpants series with our older boys.
These books made me want to read every second. It [Cosmoe’s Wiener Getaway] was one of the best books I’ve ever read. There were a lot of things that I really liked about the books. The things that made the most difference to me were:
- Adventure. It has adventure and I like that because it makes it really interesting.
- Characters. The 2-3 main characters are Cosmoe, Humphree and Princess Dagger. It felt like a Tom Hanks movie because it has a lot of action and some resting parts.
- Variety. You think some characters are evil and then they turn out to be good, which makes it unique.
- Suspense. I never knew what to expect next because every second has suspense in it.
- Different. This book is different than a lot of books I have read because it is science fiction in space and because of how it mixes in comics.
- Space Travel. I loved the “Neon Wiener” ship because it helped the characters in their battles and had lots of interesting compartments and gadgets.
Cosmoe and his best friends Humphree and Princess Dagger were trying to find and capture all of the pieces of a watermelon. They figured out that the pieces of the watermelon were supposed to be brought together to a planet and were surprised to find out that it hatched a snake. In the end, the good guys won, so that was nice.
Over the course of raising three boys, we have learned that—especially in the middle elementary years—it’s great to have some books that are fun to read together (we love the Who Is/Who Was biography series by Grosset & Dunlap) and others that are ideal for independent reading. The Galactic Hot Dogs fall in the latter category. This can be a relief sometimes! We can read books we enjoy while kids read what they enjoy.
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