Mega-selling author Dav Pilkey will claim another slot on bestseller lists this week with the November 30 release of Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives, the second book in the Cat Kid Comic Club series. And there’s more good news for young readers—publisher Scholastic has announced the title for book three in the series: Cat Kid Comic Club: On Purpose. The book will drop on April 5, 2022.
A spin-off to Pilkey’s blockbuster Dog Man series, Cat Kid Comic Club follows Li'l Petey, Flippy, and Molly as they introduce a group of baby frogs to the art of comic making. And with Pilkey’s trademark humor and innovative artwork, the Cat Kid graphic novels offer a number of valuable lessons for young readers. In the first book, for example, the baby frogs learned how failure is part and parcel of the creative process, and about the importance of practice, and persistence. In Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives, the baby frogs explore different ways of seeing the world and find new ways to collaborate. And in the forthcoming Cat Kid Comic Club: On Purpose, the baby frogs will learn to face rejection, navigate sibling relationships, and ultimately to follow their own creative paths.
The Cat Kid series debuted in December 2020 to rave reviews—including a starred review from PW, which called it “irreverent, laugh-out-loud funny” and “a heartfelt celebration of coming into one's own as an artist, with all its frustrations and joys.” And the series is clearly resonating with readers: since its launch in December 2020, Scholastic reports more than 4.5 million copies in print in North America alone.
“My hope is that kids find joy in reading, appreciate different ways of thinking, and find their purpose as they dream up their own stories,” Pilkey said in a statement.
“Dav Pilkey’s books explore themes with universal resonance including friendship, family, empathy, creativity, and imagination,” added Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade. “As his longtime publisher, we have witnessed Dav’s amazing ability to engage kids for more than 30 years, and we are thrilled to see the anticipation and excitement that his Dog Man and Cat Kid Comic Club books bring to children, parents, educators, and booksellers worldwide.”
Since the pandemic lockdowns began, Pilkey has been hunkered down working solely on the Cat Kid books from his studio in Japan—a stark contrast to 2019, when Pilkey hit the road for his sold-out Do Good arena tour, which helped earn him PW’s 2019 Person of the Year honors.
But this fall, Pilkey did find a way to connect with his readers through Scholastic’s “Bark to School” campaign. In an exclusive video, Pilkey offered students a virtual tour of his studio and a glimpse of the techniques he uses to create his graphic novels. And, as part of the campaign, Pilkey collaborated with Scholastic Book Fairs, indie booksellers, and the nonprofit literacy organization My Very Own Library to give away thousands of copies of Cat Kid Comic Club to students in underserved communities across the country.
Meghan Goel, children's book buyer for Austin, Tex.-based indie bookseller BookPeople, described an emotional, joyful scene in supplying copies to third and fourth graders in "high need" schools in Austin. “One of the librarians was moved to tears picking up the books, and talked about how the kids in her school have had such a hard year and this was going to make them all so happy,” Goel said.
Angie Tally, children's manager at the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, N.C., echoed Goel’s sentiments. “An event like Bark to School can be life-changing for some students,” Tally said—adding that one school even got their principal to dress as Li’l Petey for a staff reading of Cat Kid Comic Club. “Being a part of something like this can really make kids into lifelong readers, which is absolutely the main reason kids’ booksellers go to work every day."
Meanwhile, despite not being able to get out and meet young readers and their parents during the lockdowns, Pilkey says he still found ways to learn and grow. “During the pandemic, I had to adapt and I started watching videos that children have posted online,” Pilkey told PW. “Most of the videos are of kids reading my books out loud, and I've been listening carefully to how they read. This has helped me immensely, and has especially influenced the way I use complex words and themes in my books.”
For Pilkey, the Cat Kid Comic Club series is yet another big success in his 34-year career, which includes 12 main books in his Captain Underpants series (not including movies, TV shows, and activity books), and 10 books in his Dog Man series, which launched to multiple starred reviews just five years ago, in fall 2016.
The Dog Man series now counts more than 40 million copies in print in 42 languages, with all 10 books in the series landing in the #1 overall spot on various bestseller lists. So far in 2021 alone Pilkey has sold 3.3 million books across all of his titles—for perspective, that’s more than other bestselling authors like James Patterson (2.8 million), Stephen King (1.4 million) and J.K Rowling (1.3 million), according to NPD Bookcan. Meanwhile, Dog Man is also reportedly headed for the big screen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a Dog Man movie is said to be in the works from Dreamworks Animation, although no release date has been set.
And while it is still too early to know when life will return to a place where Pilkey can get back on the road and meet his readers, that day is clearly on his mind.
"I miss being able to interact with children and families in person," Pilkey told PW. "For me, it's the most important part of my job, not only because it inspires and motivates me, but because it helps me to see where my books have been impactful, and where I need to improve."