Axel & Theo

axel cover

Axel & Theo

My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy

By Amberly Kristen Clowe, Illustrated by Katy Huggins


Published by: Smooth Sailing Press, LLC; 1 edition (November 15, 2014)

Available in: paperback, Kindle

At the time of this review Axel & Theo was a standalone book.



Reach for the stars.

Axel & Theo is a space fantasy for young readers who love dogs, hate cats and want to see the neighborhood bully get flummoxed by a Dachshund. There’s an appropriate amount of time spent on things that boys, in particular, will laugh about: a King Barfin, an epic battle, holograms and lasers, and a cliffhanger ending.

Since the protagonist is in fourth grade, this is a good choice for boys in mid to higher elementary grades who might lag in reading skills or are reluctant readers. The largely science fiction-based story will still challenge and enlighten these young minds, but the text remains accessible through clean, simple writing.

The publisher has produced a book trailer that’s just about the best one I’ve seen for a chapter book. That alone is something of interest to writers who struggle to keep on top of the social-media side of today’s publishing market. The trailer is shown here.


Keeping these positive aspects in mind, there are some obvious, first-impression problems with this chapter book. The typeface is too small and calls to mind a home printer. The illustration style is undeveloped, with proportions that are not quite on. And the price of the book is about double of comparable titles.

But the story has the genuine, kooky flow of a young man’s imagination. It feels authentic, as if plucked directly from a child’s afternoon at play. So even with the challenged packaging, this book could be just the right fit for some young readers who might otherwise spend the day watching TV. That’s always worthwhile.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

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