Donovan Bixley is one of our most talented illustrators in New Zealand and I’d have to say he’s my favourite illustrator. Not only has Donovan illustrated stories for other wonderful authors like Kyle Mewburn, Yvonne Morrison and Margaret Mahy, he has also written and illustrated his own books. His style is unique but it varies slightly depending on the topic, with a particular talent for poo, vomit and snot. Donovan has recently released a new series, called Flying Furballs, that he has both written and illustrated. The first book in the series, Dogfight, really proves why Donovan is one of our most talented creators of great books for kids.
Strap on your flying goggles, prepare your bi-plane and get set to join Claude D’Bonair and the CATs Air Corps for adventure, crazy missions, dangerous rescues and plenty of laughs. Donovan Bixley shows us the Great War like we’ve never seen it before. It’s the CATs (Cat Allied Troops) versus the DOGZ (Dog Obedience Governed Zone) as the CATs try to stop the DOGZ from taking over Europe. It’s up to Claude and the team at CATs HQ to fight for all of katdom. In this first book Claude decides to take matters into his own hands when the CATs most famous dogfighter, Major Tom, is captured and held in the DOGZ castle headquarters. It’s up to Claude to rescue Major Tom and bring him home.
Dogfight is a witty and very funny start to the Flying Furballs series. Donovan really knows his audience and tells a story that kids will love. Donovan’s trademark humour shines through in both the illustration and the text. There are cat and dog puns galore dotted throughout the story. At one point in the story when Claude meets Major Tom he says that he was afraid that the DOGZ were torturing him and Major Tom’s reply is:
‘Oh yes, got plenty of that. They pulled my tail. Rubbed my fur the wrong way. Dunked me in a bathtub. And the mongrels dangled a piece of wool in front of me, just out of reach – for a week!’
Even the characters names are hilarious, from Syd Fishus, the cat who flew with Claude’s father, to Commander Katerina Snookums, and C-for, the CATs resident inventor.
Like the Dinosaur Rescue series and Dragon Knight series Donovan has included some cool diagrams in Dogfight. These explain how gadgets and planes work and show the different important parts.
Dogfight will have you laughing out loud and desperately wanting to get hold of the next book in the series.