Katherine Applegate and Gennifer Choldenko Talk 'Dogtown' Sequel, and a Cover Reveal!

The seasoned duo chat about their collaborative process, real-life "Dogtown" counterparts, and drawing plot inspiration from the absurdity of the everyday. Plus, a cover reveal!

Legendary kidlit authors Katherine Applegate and Gennifer Choldenko have reunited for a much-anticipated sequel to their 2023 Dogtown. The seasoned duo took a minute to chat with each other about their collaborative process, real-life "Dogtown" counterparts, and drawing plot inspiration from the absurdity of the everyday. Plus, a cover reveal!

Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate: Dogtown 2! Can you believe it? When we first met years ago, I never dreamed we’d end up collaborating on two books.

Gennifer Choldenko: Me either, but it’s been a hoot. I love getting your emails. They always make me laugh. One of the things we said when we started our collaboration was friendship comes first. That has come through in the books, don’t you think?

KA: I sure hope so. The fact that we share the same sense of humor (you might call it, umm…quirky?) has made collaborating on these books so much fun. Although I confess that when you write a particularly funny line, I always feel a twinge of "why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?"

GC: Same here. But since both of our names are on the books, it’s almost like thinking of it yourself, isn’t it?  Seriously though, one of the reasons we wrote the "Dogtown" books was we wanted to get information out about how many wonderful dogs (and cats) are in shelters and how easy it is to adopt one. You have two shelter dogs.

KA: Yep. Astrid, a spaniel-looking mutt, and Boss, a pug mix named after a character in The One and Only Bob. They’re a bit wacky, but much loved (except by my elderly cat). And you volunteer at a shelter. What is that like for you?

Gennifer Choldenko

GC: When the puppies come in, it’s pure bliss to get to play with them. But when an older dog who has lived her whole life with a beloved human suddenly finds herself in a shelter cage...that’s heartbreaking.

KA: You brought a lot of the poignant and funny details from your experience at the shelter into both books. Especially the whole “bounceback” issue.

GC: A "bounceback" is a dog who gets adopted then returned. In Dogtown, a bounceback named Buster had a cameo role and we thought he needed his own book. Buster has the best of intentions but always gets himself tangled in terrible trouble. Has that ever happened to you?

KA: Daily. If not hourly.

GC: You’d think as adults we’d have it figured out. Maybe that’s why we write for kids. But wait, tell us about your dog, Goofy. It was Goofy who gave us the idea to have a Dogtown program where kids read to dogs. 

KA: Good ol’ Goofy. He was this big yellow Lab with a heart of gold and a stomach of steel. We visited classrooms with neurodiverse kids who would read to him. He was an excellent listener, although he never quite got the hang of turning pages with his paw.

GC: The surprise in this book was Mouse. We had not planned to have Mouse narrate. You lobbied to have a mouse in the first Dogtown.  And you understood the charm of having Mouse narrate Mouse and His Dog way before I did. Why?

KA: You can’t go wrong having a mouse around to help with your plot, given those nimble little paws and the ability to squeeze into tight places. And the great thing about Mouse is that he can see everything that’s happening in Dogtown, which makes him the perfect narrator. Adding him to the cast turned out to be surprisingly useful.

GC: And then on our Dogtown launch day I had a mouse stowaway! I was driving home after visiting three schools and a bookstore when a mouse crawled out from under the hood and stared at me. I’m pretty sure he was telling me he wanted a bigger role in the next book.   

KA: BTW, if you don’t think mice are capable of amazing feats, check out this video:


GC: I want a mouse who cleans my house.  Oh, we almost forgot to say Dogtown is a shelter for both strays and discarded metal dogs.

KA: Right. Metal Head is in Mouse and His Dog along with a new robot dog named Smoke Alarm. Where did Smoke Alarm come from?

GC: The smoke alarm goes off a lot at my house. And when it does inevitably someone says, “Mom must be cooking dinner.” So we thought, what if there was a robot dog factory that also built smoke alarms and controls got switched, connections got crossed and one robot dog got wired as a smoke alarm? Do your dogs get as upset as mine does when the smoke alarm goes off?

KA: Yes, that’s why I never cook.

GC: That explains so much. 


Check out the cover for Mouse and His Dog: A Dogtown Book below:

Mouse and His Dog: A Dogtown Book will be published September 2024 by Feiwel & Friends.

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