Dav Pilkey is bringing back his bestselling Dog Man hero this month—with much fanfare. On March 28, Scholastic will release Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea, the indefatigable canine’s 11th graphic-novel adventure in a series that has more than 60 million copies in print and has been translated into 44 languages.
The book, which delves into trademark Pilkey themes of friendship, working together, and doing good, will be published simultaneously in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Asia. Expectations for the new volume understandably run high: its immediate predecessor in the series, Dog Man: Mothering Heights, landed on both children’s and adult bestseller lists and became the overall bestselling book in the U.S. in 2021.
Here’s a look at what’s on the horizon for the maiden journey of Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea.
Dog Man Gets His Day
Scholastic has a campaign afloat to celebrate reading through Dog Man Day events in schools, bookstores, and libraries across the world, beginning on March 28 and running throughout the spring.
The publisher is also encouraging retailers Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Books-a-Million, and independent bookstores to host Dog Man Day celebrations to bring communities and families together to promote reading. To help attendees to get in the spirit, multiple Dog Man costumed characters will make appearances at major venues and conventions throughout the year. Fans can find information about Dog Man Day events near them here.
Scholastic has created thousands of “Supa Epic Event Kits” for public and school libraries hosting Dog Man Day events. Each kit contains such giveaways as “Dive into Reading with Dog Man” posters, materials for creating comics, and downloadable activities—all accessible at the website listed above.
In the Spotlight
In other news, seasoned thespian Dog Man will return to the stage between March 4 and April 30, when TheaterWorksUSA’s Dog Man: The Musical reopens for eight weeks at New World Stages in New York City after a pandemic-dictated hiatus. The musical debuted in 2019 as part of TWUSA’s Family Summer Theater program. Performances are also scheduled to begin in Australia in June.
On March 30, the cast of the Dog Man musical will participate in a special performance and book giveaway at New World Stages for kids from New York City Title 1 schools. This event is part of TheaterWorksUSA’s not-for-profit mission and Cause for Applause Fund, which makes theater accessible for all children.
Michael Harrington, the organization’s executive director, expressed gratitude for the outreach of the Dog Man team. “As live theater emerges optimistically from a few challenging years, what better way to return than sharing laughter and joy with our families?” he said. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with Dav Pilkey, Scholastic, and New World Stages to bring families back into the theater in New York City this spring for Dog Man: The Musical. The return of the musical coinciding with the release of the new book only reinforces the unique influence that both theater and books have in encouraging literacy, imagination, empathy, and friendship.”
And Dog Man and his troupe are likely to be moving on to the big screen in the future: a feature film adaptation of their escapades is currently in the works from DreamWorks Animation.
There are plenty of giveaways up for grabs as part of the Dog Man Day festivities—here’s a sampling:
- Pilkey has written and illustrated a 16-page original comic, Wally’s World, which will be available for free (while supplies last) exclusively at independent bookstores in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Target and Barnes & Noble will offer (respectively) exclusive editions of Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea featuring free trading cards; or a colorable pull-out poster.
To celebrate the joy of reading in classrooms, Scholastic Book Clubs, for the first time, will be distributing Dog Man Day celebration kits in its Book Club boxes, whose design features Pilkey’s iconic characters.
- On May 6, “Free Comic Book Day,” comic bookstores will give away free copies of a comic featuring characters from both the Dog Man and Captain Underpants series.
- Scholastic Book Fairs, in partnership with the Scripps Howard Fund (and courtesy of Pilkey), will distribute free copies of Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea to 25,000 students and teachers in Title 1 schools. The giveaway is part of the Fund’s “If You Give a Child a Book…” literacy campaign, which provides free book fairs for low-income students in The E.W. Scripps Company’s 41 markets in this country.
Pilkey offered his gratitude to those who have shared his passionate advocacy of reading during his 37 years of writing and illustrating books for children. “It is truly an honor to work with the booksellers, educators, and all of the people who make it possible for kids to easily access books and discover themselves in books,” he said in a statement. “I hope I can fulfill my part and make reading fun.”