May 2015, Simon and Schuster Children's, 300 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: oodles of humour, tissue needed
Summary from Simon and Schuster
Captain Underpants meets Star Wars in this hilariously funny new series.
Cosmoe was just your average, adventure-seeking 13-year-old orphan back on Earth, until the strange night he was yanked into space. Now he's got all the adventure he craved and more aboard the Neon Wiener ~ part spaceship, part food truck ~ selling their trademarked dish of 'Galactic Hot Dogs'.
Cosmoe and friends run into trouble when Princess Dagger, a half-evil, half-awesome princess manages to kidnap herself onto their ship and suddenly her evil mother is gunning for the Neon Wiener…
I almost passed on reviewing this book as it screamed 'boy book' to me, but I'm heartily glad I didn't. I guess it is a boy book, with a boy as one of the main characters, robots, things so gross I had to squint through my mostly clothed fingers as I couldn't bear to look at the vivid and large illustrations, and illogical boy logic, and yet it's not. Want to know why? Two words.
She caught my eye initially because in the ace video game Final Fantasy 9 one of the main characters is a princess, Princess Garnet, who names herself Dagger when she's on the run from her evil mother, the Queen (who turns out not to be her mother, thank goodness!).
|Like how many princess plead to be kidnapped? Only the plucky ones...|
The game version of Dagger is cool. This Princess Dagger is equally cool!
|Princess Dagger. Her hair is purple!!!|
Her attitude shines brightly from every page that she's on - and all those that she isn't, which isn't a lot. By attitude I mean attitude - she knows what she wants, won't rest until she has it, won't leave others in peace until she's happy, and with evil running through her veins she is responsible for a fair few plot twists. She uses evil for good (really!), being expected to be evil means that she has to work even harder to show she is good, but it also works to her advantage.
Princess Dagger is awesome! She made me want to reread the book straight away just for her (I didn't, I constantly have a stack of books to read for review so rereads take a long time to happen). Not only is she a daredevil but her character is larger than life thanks to Rachel's funky illustration style. I squee-d every time I saw her. Yes I'm a Princess Dagger fangirl & proud! I'm sure you will be too ^o^
Find out how and why Galactic Hot Dogs is more than just a book on the dedicated website.
Check out another atypical princess in Frog The Barbarian by Guy Bass (Children's, 7 years +, 10/10E)
|The princess is on the lower left|
Q&A with Max
|Isn't Princess Dagger ace?!! & the others too, I suppose|
It was a real pleasure to ask Max, the creator of the fun, stylish, and inspiring Princess Dagger (& Cosmoe) a bunch of questions about the book - including some about Dagger! Since she is the true heroine of the tale. Thank you Max for revealing more with your answers!
Nayu: You probably get asked this a lot buy why use hot dogs? Why not use a different food?
Max Good question! There are two reasons. First, hot dogs are pretty much my favorite food. My father is also a writer and he even wrote a book about how to cook hot dogs. It was full of all sorts of crazy hot dog recipes — like super, nutso weird ones. Bonkers stuff. I used to come home after school in, like, 6th grade – and there would be all this insane hot dog cooking going on in the kitchen. That’s actually where a lot of the ideas for the official Galactic Hot Dogs menu in the back of the book came from.
And I also liked the idea that Cosmoe is sort of the ultimate "hot dog" — always showing off — so I thought it was sort of funny that he would sell hot dogs. I liked the little pun there, around "hot dogs” and hot doggin’ it.
Cosmoe is the main character but the lead in my eyes is Princess Dagger, who for me makes this book appealing for those of us who prefer female main characters. Had she always been part of the story, or was she absent at all in the early drafts?
I agree – It’s really Princess Dagger that drives the story forward. She’s the one that changes and evolves in this book — whereas Cosmoe is just sort of a radical, goofy hero throughout.
Princess Dagger was 100% a major part of the story from the very beginning. Early on, I knew I wanted to have two best buds (Cosmoe and Humphree) whose sort of perfect, lackadaisical life is interrupted by this sudden outside force - a princess. And when we as readers think of a “princess,” I think we often think Cinderella or something old fashioned like that — so I wanted to flip the idea of the classic “princess” on it’s head as much as possible. I wanted to make the Princess the most emotionally complicated character, the most gung-ho, the most ready for action.
When you’re a kid or a young teenager, there are really moments when you clash with your parents — it’s natural. So I thought it would be fun to take that idea and push it to the extreme — y’know, what if your parent was the ruler of this Dark Kingdom of Evil and you were expected to take over the throne but didn’t want to? What’s more extreme than that?
Princess Dagger is my favorite character to write – her voice is a combination of my sister Ruby and a few friends of mine. I get excited whenever I know I have a big Princess Dagger scene to write. I’m glad you like her so much!
Half the fun of the book is that there are so much graphics to look at. My favourite was Princess Dagger (no surprise considering question 2). Was there a reason why you opted for this style of book, rather than less illustrations or having it more like a comic book?
I tend to think in terms of pictures and images, even when writing. Before I write a scene, I close my eyes and picture what happens – sort of like I’m watching a movie. And then I write down quick bullet points, showing all the big images that I’d want see in that “movie.”
So that’s whey there’s such great emphasis on illustrations in Galactic Hot Dogs. But at the same time, I like writing “prose.” I like writing the stuff inside Cosmoe’s head and I like playing with language. So I didn’t want it to be a straight/traditional comic book or graphic novel.
Originally, there was going to be less of a focus on the art — but when I saw Rachel’s work I was just so blown away by her talent and what she was able to do — both with illustrations and with text — that it seemed silly not to just unleash her abilities to the fullest.
Can you give us any information on what the next book in the series holds for Princess Dagger (& the rest…)
I can give you just a little peak… ;) Cosmoe and Dagger and friends run into something called The Cosmic Carnival & Wonder Circus — it’s a space circus, full of huge, strange beasts. The circus’s ring master discovers Cosmoe’s skill at dealing with big beasts — and the adventure takes off from there. We’ll learn more about Cosmoe’s past, his life on Earth, and what he feels is his “destiny.”
Princess Dagger, meanwhile, is focused on continuing to live a radical life, free from her evil mom — and doing as many awesome things as she can. She has a big list of adventures she wants to get into and she checks them off as she goes. Plus, she gets to kick some serious bad guy behind.
Where’s your favourite writing spot, and is there any particular food/drink you like to munch on while writing?
I have a few! I have to switch up spots every now and then or else I kind of lose my mojo. When it’s warm out, I walk to a coffee shop about a mile from my apartment – it’s called Think Coffee. I’ll get there early and write, write, write until I run out of steam. If it’s really nice, I’ll write on the roof of my apartment building — there’s a little table beneath a tree that gives me some shade. In the winter, when I’m less inclined to go out (AKA when I’m cold and lazy), I do a lot of my writing in a little workspace in my apartment. Not very exciting, I know.
There’s not one particular food I lie to munch on while writing — if there were no consequences, I’d probably have a big bowl of peanut M&Ms and chocolate covered espresso beans. But once I start eating that stuff, I can’t stop — and I’d end up eating literally like 649 peanut M&Ms a day, every day. So I try not to eat too much while writing. I drink lots and lots and lots of coffee while I’m writing. Iced coffee in the spring and summer, hot coffee in the winter and fall. And whenever I finish a big tough chapter, I’ll have a milkshake… :)