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New Pilkey book a case of ‘Dogshead Revisited’

The top selling titles at Copperfield’s Books, in Petaluma, for the week of March 22-March 29, 2021

In Petaluma, it’s the Week of the Dog.

Well, half-dog, anyway.

As a stack of popular book titles play musical chairs on this week’s Bestselling Fiction and Nonfiction list – with Madeline Miller’s mythological novel “Circe” materializing once again in the No. 1 spot after several weeks of bouncing up and down the list – the main action in town is happening on the Kids and Young Adults list.

We’ll get to that in minute.

Working down from “Circe,” we see that Kazuo Ighiguro’s robots-and-religion fantasy “Klara and the Sun” (last week’s No. 5) has moved up into the No. 2 slot, while last week’s No. 1, Robin Kimmerer’s elegiac nonfiction bestseller “Braiding Sweetgrass,” drops a couple of spots to No. 3.

The lone newcomer this week is Jacqueline Winspear’s “The Consequences of Fear” (No. 6), the 16th in the author’s historical-crime series about Maisie Dobbs, an inventive psychologist and investigator attempting to solve a murder in London as the rise of fascism heats up across Europe in the early days of World War II.

And speaking of heating up, it’s no surprise that with the weather turning warm and people venturing out of their homes and onto the trails (masks still required when passing people, folks), the immensely popular “Petaluma Wetlands Field Guide,” by John Shribbs and Marian Parker, is back on the bestseller list, currently at No. 10.

But as promised, the big news this week — accompanied by a happy howl of delight from Petaluma’s younger readers – is the release of the brand new Dog Man book, scampering to the top of the graphic-novel dogpile at No. 1. The 10th in the hilarious series by Dav Pilkey (“Captain Underpants”), “Mothering Heights” follows the canine cop hero who is the experimental fusion of Police Officer Knight’s body and the head of a dog named Greg. The unlikely stitch-job is the result of a badly timed explosion that forever altered the careers of man and dog. The series is full of outrageous characters and parade of off-the-wall villains, including a bionic butterfly fish named Flippy and a criminal cabal of crudely-behaving critters knows as F.L.E.A.S. (Fuzzy Little Evil Animal Squad).

One of the smartest things about this series has been the cool literary shout-outs to classic novels embedded in the books’ titles, which often inform the plots of Pilkey’s off-the-wall stories. “Mothering Heights” is an obvious homage to Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights,” of course, but it’s just the latest in a string of similarly spoofy titles. Some of the best have been “Lord of the Fleas,” “Brawl of the Wild,” “Fetch-22,” and “For Whom the Ball Rolls,” with all thanks and apologies to William Golding (“Lord of the Flies”), Jack London (“Call of Wild”), Joseph Heller (Catch-22) and Ernest Hemingway (“For Whom the Bell Tolls”).

Here’s hoping such clever wordplay implants Pilkey’s readers with an unconscious interest in someday exploring the mighty masterpieces after which the entertaining “Dog Man” books are named.

Here are the complete Top 10 books on Copperfield’s Fiction and Nonfiction lists, and the Kids and Young Adults list.

FICTION & NON-FICTION

1. ‘Circe,’ by Madeline Miller – The notorious animal-transforming sorceress from “The Odyssey” tells her own story, and guess what? It’s not the same story told by the piggish men she encountered.

2. ‘Klara and the Sun,’ by Kazuo Ighiguro – In the future, a sun-worshipping AF (Artificial Friend) dedicates herself selflessly – perhaps a too selflessly – to the flesh-and-blood folks she was created to serve.

3. ‘Braiding Sweetgrass,’ by Robin Kimmerer – A rich and lyrical nonfiction exploration of indigenous wisdom and the scientific look at what plants are able to teach us.

4. ‘The Dutch House,’ by Ann Patchett – A family changes, and changes again, over the course of generations in this mesmerizing novel from the author of “Commonwealth.”

5. ‘The Body: A Guide for Occupants,’ by Bill Bryson – A light-hearted, deep-searching look at the human machine and why it does so many impressive and surprising (and sometimes terrible) things.

6. ‘The Consequences of Fear,’ by Jacqueline Winspear – The intrepid psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs’ 16th adventure takes place during WWII, as Europe is falling to the Nazis, and a possible murder could have devastating repercussions for the war effort.

7. ‘The Dunnes of Brittas,’ by Kevin Lee Akers – A based-on-a-true-story novel about an Irish family who relocate to Petaluma in the midst of the infamous famines of the 1800.

8. ‘We Became Jaguars,’ by Dave Eggers – The author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” delivers an illustrated picture book about a grandmother who shares with her grandson the secret of turning into a jaguar.

9. ‘The Glass Hotel,’ by Emily St. John Mandel – A kind of genre-blurring ghost story in which a jailed man enters “The Counterlife,” an alternate reality where he seeks to avoid facing the victims, alive and dead, of his crimes.

10. ‘Petaluma Wetlands Field Guide,’ by John Shribbs and Marian Parker – A portable guide to all the animals, birds and plants of Petaluma’s Sollenberger Park and surrounding wetlands.

KIDS & YOUNG ADULTS

1. ‘Dog Man: Mothering Heights,’ by Dav Pilkey – In the 10th book in the series by the creator of Captain Underpants, canine cop Dog Man teams up with Petey the Cat and a stray kitten to stop an onslaught of villains and prove the persistent power of love, kindness and dog-slobbering.

2. ‘Middle Kid,’ by Steven Weinberg – In this lively picture book, Steven Weinberg takes readers through a day in the life of a “middle kid,” who’s never the first at anything.

3. ‘Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn,’ by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham – A tale of affirming one’s identity as told through the friendship between two different (but not-so-different) magical creatures.

4. ‘Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories,’ by Jeff Kinney – The “Wimpy Kid” sidekick shares scary tales that are actually hilarious.

5. ‘Hilo: Gina - The Girl Who Broke the World,’ by Judd Winick – Another sequel in the bestselling kids series about a robot battling boy from another world, this one focused on the fearless supporting character of Gina, who finally gets her own story.

6. ‘Babysitters Club: Claudia and the New Girl,’ by Ann M. Martin - More Babysitters Club adventures from Ann M. Martin.

7. ‘Wings of Fire: The Dangerous Gift,’ by Tui Sutherland – Another chapter in Sutherland’s epic series of graphic novels, featuring more fire-starting dragons and more fun.

8. ‘Can I Sit with You?’ by Sarah Jacoby - A girl and a dog learn about the empathetic transformation that can come from having a friend at your side during difficult times.

9. ‘A Jack Book: Jack Gets Zapped!’ by Mac Barnett – The trouble-making rabbit returns for an electrifying picture book adventure.

10. ‘How to Babysit a Grandma,’ by Jean Reagan and – A giggle-inducing picture book from 2014, filled with silly situations and delightful drawings.

(Data compiled by Amber-Rose Reed, Manager of Copperfield’s Books)

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