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Review: Science Comics: Dogs, From Predator to Protector

Science Comics: Dogs, From Predator to Protector
By Andy Hirsch
All Ages (9-13)
First Second, October 2017

Everyone loves dogs. Most people have known or grown up with dogs. But what do we really know about the animal we call “man’s best friend?” Science Comics has come up with the answer to that, by introducing a dog named Rudy who loves his person and chasing balls and who can also travel through time.

Rudy greets the reader after arriving at the park. He starts out by explaining the relationship of dogs to wolves through taxonomy, the practice of naming and classification. The discovery of a ball sends him off on his journey through time, as he chases it back to 25,000 BP, to the dawn of dog history. From here, he follows the ball, going through the history of genetics and how genes are inherited. This moves into evolution and natural selection, and how the trait to be less scared of humans changed wolves’ temperament and appearance to become dogs. Through this domestication, dogs became the useful and faithful companions we see today.

The story starts out spending a lot of time on the science of genetics, going into detail starting with Mendel’s experiments with sweet peas, explaining genetic inheritance, and using punnett squares to show dominance. Rudy does his best to keep it interesting, but it is a lot of information, and it takes awhile to get through it as well as explaining the domestication process before it gets back to looking at dogs specifically.

Once it does, the story picks up, going over how different and extensive a dog’s senses are and why they sniff backsides. It also looks at dogs’ intelligence and how their basic predatory instinct was used by humans to turn them into herders and hunters. It then starts talking about breeds, coming back around to genes and artificial selection, and how breeds can have personality traits, but how a dog is raised has a bigger effect on their personality. It ends with looking at the way a dog communicates both with humans and other dogs.

Science Comics: Dogs: From Predator to Protector is a fun and entertaining look at these animals. It goes in depth into the science to explain how dogs came to be our companions, and that it’s more predisposed than learned. Older elementary and middle school students will find the science more interesting than younger readers, but readers of all ages will appreciate the information about dogs themselves. And Rudy does get his ball back.

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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