Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis

Book: Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis
Author and Illustrator: Dav Pilkey
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks, reprinted in 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0590474665 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0590474669 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0439598392 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0439598397 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4 – 8
Rating: ** 2 stars (POOR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Pilkey, Dav. Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis (published in 1994 by Blue Sky Press). Hold your nose! Hally is an exuberant dog who has a big problem. Her worst breath in the world keeps even skunks away. She finds that her life is further complicated by a visit from Grandma Tosis and her chaos-inducing attempts to say hello. When the Tosis parents seek to put the stinky pet up for adoption, the Tosis kids try to save Hally. They take her to a sight with a “breathtaking view.” They go a movie starring “Perry O’Donnel and Ginger Vitus” said to leave audiences “breathless.” They bring her to a roller coaster so fast it makes riders lose their breath—but all is to no avail. However, a wanted poster showing two robbers presages a happy ending when the villains visit the Tosis home and suffer the odiferous consequences.

Dave Pilkey is also the author of the “Captain Underpants” books, which we found to be simply atrocious. I recall a discussion about them on a homeschooling e-mail list in which the majority of parents concluded that they were the literary equivalent of unhealthy junk food in print. I will admit that some of the wordplay in Dog Breath is somewhat funny, but it is basically a one-joke book in which the humor gets quite old and stale very quickly. Even Publishers Weekly said, ”Pilkey’s silly tales forage unabashedly for lowbrow laughs, and his aim is usually accurate.” When our older son Mark was young, he liked to read stories with lots of corny jokes, puns, other plays on words, and sight gags, so he checked this book out of the library. There is nothing necessarily wrong with it. However, my feeling is that there is much better literature out there for kids to read.

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