Hot Dog! #12: Lolly Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

It’s almost Halloween and Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie are busy working on their costumes. Meanwhile, the new lolly shop is hosting a competition so when they’re not trying to perfect their sewing skills, the friends are cooking up a storm.

While I loved the Halloween costumes the friends ended up wearing, I haven’t found the last couple of books in this series as funny as I did the earlier ones.

It was good to finally meet some of Lizzie’s family and kids should enjoy trying to solve the spooky mystery.

I always look forward to Dan McGuiness’ illustrations and they’re as fun as ever. 


Humpty Dumpty Kev, Kev on roller skates and Kev essentially having any expression at all were the standouts for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The lolly shop’s having a contest to see who can come up with the best new candy! Meanwhile, it’s Halloween and there’s a ghost on the loose!

Can Hot Dog and his friends create a winning treat and capture the spooky stranger?! It would be sweeeeeet!

Hot Dog! #11: Tool Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

Hotdog and his friends, Lizzie and Kev, desperately want to go to Grizzney Land, but they don’t have any money to pay the admission fee.

There’s no problem these friends can’t solve, though. They decide to earn the money themselves by starting their own business. Some jobs are harder than others but the friends persevere and finally the big day arrives. It’s time for some fun!

While the usual teamwork and good attitudes from the three friends were on show throughout this book, it wasn’t one of my favourites of the series. The jokes weren’t quite as groanworthy as usual and I found myself wishing they were. 

I wasn’t quite sure how changing some rusty screws for new ones could magically make a gate that was seriously decrepit look brand new. I guess these friends are much more handy than I gave them credit for.

I enjoyed the time spent at Grizzney Land and definitely want to try out the Bear-O-Plane.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog and his friends want to go to GRIZZNEY LAND, so they need to make money FAST! They decide to fix things with their tools! Will they nail it? Or will it be one AXE-ident after another?

Hot Dog! #10: Beach Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

It’s been raining for weeks and Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie have already exhausted all of the usual rainy day activities. They’ve even read a good book! 

Finally the sun comes out so the friends decide to go to the beach, but everything seems to be going wrong. Kev has a toothache, Hotdog has an earache and Lizzie has a sore finger. Still, they’re determined to find a way to get to the beach to have some fun.

Poor Kev just wants to eat something, Hotdog is focused on catching a wave and Lizzie learns a new, very useful skill. Along the way we meet some new characters, including a Molar Bear. 

This is a real feel good series. No matter what goes wrong, Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie remain positive and figure out solutions together. I definitely would have loved these books as a kid.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

After weeks of wet weather, the sun is out!

Hotdog and his friends are busting to get to the beach for some hot fun in the sand and surf!

But will a toothache, an earache and an epic splinter RAIN on their plans!

Hot Dog! #9: Snow Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

The last time we saw best friends Hotdog, Lizzie and Kev, they were solving crime, having tracked art thieves down to the Castle Creepy Fun Park. I loved this location and hope it will be explored further in another adventure.

This time our friends are packing their bags for Rainbow Island. They’re looking forward to having some fun in the sun but it turns out they’re actually on their way to Snowville. So rather than surfing and soaking up the sun, they’ll be keeping cool, ice skating, skiing and making snowmen.


This is a series where it’s safe to check out that strange noise in the basement, where new friends are brave enough to face their fears and try new things, and where teamwork is key.

As usual, the story is fun and the illustrations are adorable. Be on the lookout for Hotdog in a hotdog outfit!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog and his friends think they’re headed for the hot sun and sand of Rainbow Island … but they end up in SNOWVILLE instead! Brrrrrr!

Can they make the most of their icy holiday? And maybe even compete in the Snowville Games?

Hot Dog! #8: Art Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

Hotdog and his friends are enjoying painting but they all like to paint different things. Hotdog paints his friends, Kev paints food (of course!) and Lizzie paints monsters. Lizzie loves the monsters but Hotdog and Kev find them really scary. The friends are going to enter a contest hosted by the local art museum.

You may (almost) recognise some of the other entrants, which include Pablo Pigasso and Andy Warthog.


Our three friends are still at the museum when a terrible crime takes place: the Llama Lisa is stolen!


Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie take it upon themselves to follow the clues and track the art thieves down.

I don’t remember a single time in this series where the friends have won a competition and love that, because that’s not what they’re about. These books are all about friendship and teamwork. This time the friends also need to be brave.

‘But, remember, we can do anything when we’re together.’

Each book in this series features a different colour. This book is PINK! Fluro pink. So pink that it wouldn’t have surprised me if I’d discovered it was glow in the dark. It’s not, but it should could have been. Adults may be reaching for sunglasses when they read some words and phrases. Kids will love it! Each of the illustrations also feature a few different shades of pink. My photos do not do these pictures justice or show the vibrancy of the pinks.

After reading this book I realise I need my very own dino bike and want to explore the Castle Creepy Fun Park. I particularly loved the toothy robot crocodiles and Haunted Library. As usual, Dan McGuiness’ illustrations complement Anh Do’s story perfectly.

I can’t wait to see what these friends get up to next!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie enter an art contest at the local museum. But what happens when someone steals the most famous painting in the world the Llama Lisa!?

Can Hotdog and his friends chase down the robbers?

Hot Dog! #7: Show Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

Hot Dog, Lizzie and Kev are trying to come up with the perfect act for the Toy Town Talent Show. With a voucher to spend on toys as the winning prize, the friends are already daydreaming about the toys they will choose.

The day after the talent show Lizzie’s sister, Emma, is getting married. When the wedding plans fall apart at the last minute it’s up to Hot Dog and his friends to step in and save the day.

As usual I loved Dan McGuiness’ illustrations, but especially enjoyed seeing Lizzie playing the drums.


and watching the cute Daredevil Hamsters perform their act.


This is such a fun series for both the target audience and adults who aren’t embarrassed to admit they still love kids’ books. With friendship and teamwork at the core of each of the stories, they provide readers with both lessons and laughs.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog and his friends want to win the Toy Town Talent Show, but the competition is tough!

Do they have what it takes to impress the crowd?

Hot Dog! #6: Movie Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuinness

Best friends Hotdog the dog, Kev the cat and Lizzie the lizard are enjoying their ice creams when Hotdog finds something exciting – posters advertising acting auditions for a new movie called The Volcano Monster! Hotdog wants to be the ninja, Kev wants to be the ballerina and Lizzie wants to be the volcano monster.

It’s only a week until the auditions so the friends need to start training if they’re going to be as heroic, brave and terrifying as the movie makers need them to be. The trio help each other perfect the talents they will need to show during their auditions. The only problem is that Lizzy is scared of heights and a volcano monster isn’t.

I always enjoy the humour in Anh’s books, even though it’s usually of the dad joke variety and super cheesy. This series always majors on friendship, with teamwork, being a good sport and looking out for others at the forefront, so there’s always a great message beneath all of the fun.

Once things quite literally heat up in this story it did wander into ‘don’t try this at home, kids!’ territory so it may be a good idea to follow up with your child after you finish reading to make sure they know that the ways the main characters deal with danger here isn’t something your child should attempt to replicate.

Dan McGuiness illustrates this series and once again he’s captured both the heart of the characters and the humour of the author. Be on the lookout for some cute porcupines, Kev in a tutu and a cucumber on an amusement park ride. The kitchen sink is even thrown in for good measure.

Each book in this series has splashes of a specific colour (usually in two or three shades) that make the illustrations pop; key words are also coloured to match. The colour for this book is red, which seemed appropriate given the volcano monster movie is central to the story.

While not my favourite book in this series it’s nonetheless a really entertaining read and I’ll be looking out for the next adventure featuring Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog, Lizzie and Kev want to be movie stars! But first they’ll have to try out with all the other actors to find the perfect roles. 

Do Hotdog and his friends have what it takes to get the parts?

Hot Dog! #5: Camping Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuinness

Five books in and I still love this series! Hotdog and his friends Kev the cat and Lizzie the lizard are on holiday at Rainbow Island, where Kev’s mother works as a doctor. Kev’s been helping his Mum look after sick animals, including a leopard with reverse-measles (his spots have fallen onto the floor 🤪).

The three friends join lots of other animals on the island for the annual Rainbow Island camping trip where they learn lots of useful skills and have fun. There’s even a biscuit eating competition featuring chocolate fudge biscuits. Yum! 😋

Of course there has to be an adventure and Hotdog and his friends use the skills they have learned to help them when things go wrong. The focus on teamwork in these books is always a winner for me. Whatever trouble our friends get into you know they’ll be okay as long as they work together.

I’ve yet to meet an Anh story I haven’t loved. I didn’t find this book quite as funny as previous stories but it was still a lot of fun. I loved the new characters introduced in this story, especially the teachers at camp. Then there was Kelly the kookaburra, who was always going to be one of my favourites as she reminded me of the kookaburras I feed each day, each with its own adorable personality.

The illustrations (greyscale and blue this time) are as wonderfully smile-worthy as ever. My favourite was a crab bringing home dinner – takeaway pizza! However I was also fairly amused seeing a fish jumping out of the water to high five one of the main characters.

Bring on the sixth book! 😊

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog, Lizzie and Kev are going CAMPING! 

There will be wood-chopping, campfire singalongs and an EPIC biscuit-eating competition. It’s going to be awesome! 

Can Hotdog, Lizzie and Kev learn the skills they need to survive in the bush?

Hot Dog! #4: Game Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

Anh Do delivers yet another fun story in the fourth book of his Hot Dog! series. We get to hang out with best friends Hotdog, Kev (the cat) and Lizzie (the lizard) as Hotdog and Lizzie try to cheer up Kev. Kev is missing his mum. She lives on Rainbow Island and Kev hasn’t got enough money to visit her.

When the best friends find out about Game Day, where teams of three compete to win a trip to Rainbow Island (wow, that was convenient!), they decide to enter. Between them they’re sure they have the skills, speed and strength they’ll need to win.

I loved the teamwork shown in this book, the emphasis on helping people rather than winning at all costs and the message that being a good sport is important regardless of the outcome.

I always love Anh’s writing style and I adore the humour in the illustrations. In this book I chuckled at so many pictures, including the sloth riding a jet ski, Hotdog dressed in a hot dog 🌭 costume, Owlbert Einstein, and the brilliance of the measuring snake.

My favourite part was Kev (the foodie) explaining how food helps him focus on gymnastics:

‘When I’m on the bars I imagine I’m a kebab getting roasted on the grill.’

‘And when I twirl the ribbons, I imagine I’m decorating cupcakes with icing!’

Inspired and yummy!

Each book in this series has wonderful greyscale illustrations with splashes of one colour. This book’s colour is orange. It may seem as though I’m shouting at you but it’s a very loud orange (sorry, couldn’t help myself 😊). Imagine fluorescent, don’t look at this with a hangover bright and you’re close to the atomic ferocity I’m talking about. The orange not only highlights the wonderful illustrations but it also makes some of the words in the text pop. Kids will love it!

I can’t wait for my next Anh fix!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog, Lizzie and Kev are training for GAME DAY! They want to win the big prize – an awesome trip to Rainbow Island! That’s where Kev’s mum lives! 

They’ll need skill, speed and strength. Do they have what it takes to win?

Hot Dog! #3: Circus Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

As someone who’s technically an adult I can tell you I love this series. I can only imagine how much fun they’d be to read as a kid. This series focuses on the friendship between Hotdog, Kevin and Lizzie. Hotdog is our main character and he’s looong. Kevin the rotund cat is a champion eater and sleeper. Lizzie the lizard enjoys reading and making others laugh but is terrified of heights.

In Circus Time! Lizzie goes off to join the circus to fulfill her dream of being a clown. Through unforeseen circumstances she has to face her fear of heights when she is asked to fill in as a trapeze artist! The support and encouragement of her friends and her bravery as she prepares to face her greatest fear is a great example for readers, teaching them valuable lessons in how to be a good friend.

As always I loved the humour in the story and illustrations. While the illustrations are primarily grayscale, each book also has splashes of colour. In this book it’s a couple of shades of purple so it deserves some brownie points for that alone. There are also purple words and phrases throughout the story.

My favourite minor character was the helpful duck who wears a vest and bow tie, and says clichéd but somehow still funny things like “egg-xactly”. I also loved the twist on the lion tamer, who is a lion that tames wild poodles.

I’ll be continuing to look out for new Hot Dog! titles at my local library and look forward to the next adventure in the lives of these friends.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Lizzies joining the circus! Her sister Emma is a high-flying trapeze star, but Lizzies terrified of heights! She’s going to be a clown, the funniest around! 

Hotdog and Kev can’t wait to see the show. Hopefully everything goes to plan!