O.K. let’s get one thing understood right away: Dads love hot dogs. That’s all there is to it. So it stands to reason that a Halloween book involving wiener dogs, bun costumes, and atrocious puns would be a sure-fire winner (Ha! I resisted that obvious pun, I do have some pride.). Add that it's written and illustrated by the genius that created such heroes as Dragon (see earlier blog posts) and Captain Underpants, and you have a tale that really cuts the mustard. (Sorry, I promise I will stop).
The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey has been in my house for the past decade and despite being dog-eared, it gets read every October by the whole family, the 4-year-old, the 13-year-old, and — ahem — those a lot older. The hero is Oscar, a wiener dog who is half-a-dog tall and one-and-a-half dogs long. His loving mother unknowingly embarrasses him by calling him her little “Sausage dog” in front of his friends as they go to obedience school, but in class Oscar dreams of having a scary halloween costume like the other pups.
At home that night his mother has a boxed costume for him and to his horror he finds it is a “hot dog bun with mustard” outfit! Oscar can’t disappoint Mother so he bravely wears it. The best line in the book is the spread that has all the other dogs in costumes “…looking quite scary. Then Oscar showed up, looking quite frank.”
Granted, most young ones will miss that one but it is a sample of the reason that I would have the book myself even without kids!
Because the silly costume slows him down, all the other dogs “hounded every treat they could get their paws on” and poor Oscar’s candy bucket (held on his tail) is empty.
On the way home he is so far behind he arrives late after a scary ghost has risen out of the graveyard and chased his friends into a pond. I won’t give the surprise ending away but the villains appear throughout the book, so make sure your child follows the clues. Needless to say, Oscar saves his friends and the night, and is showered with candy and hailed a “Hero Sandwich!”
Throughout this book the expressions and silly backgrounds — a portrait of Oscar on the wall spans three separate frames, and the background is Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”— and puns will have adults guffawing (do you still make guffaws?) and the simplicity of the illustrations keeps young ones enthralled.
Dachshund owners will love it, too, and since it is not a scary story at all, the whole family can relish it! Oops.
PS: All you Dachshund lovers who have these costumes for your own little “Oscar” may feel shamed into retiring it after reading this book!