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W.T. Kosmos
Maya and Waggers: I Have to Scoop What?
W.T. Kosmos, author

Middle Grade; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

For generations on Island Nation, the Puddin’ Heads have despised the Sweeties and lived without dogs. But after a shipload of dogs and puppies arrives, the Puddin’ Heads race to buy these creatures despite having no clue how to care for them. When the Union family can’t take their new puppy, Waggers, on a trip, Maya, her best friend Lily, and Waggers stay with dreaded Uncle Puddin’ Head. But Lily is a Sweetie, Maya refuses to scoop poop, and her uncle really, really cares about his new lawn. When Maya, Lily, and Waggers attempt creative solutions in the crazy neighbors’ yards, problems start piling up.

Kosmos’s humorous story for middle-grade readers follows a girl named Maya as she overcomes her fears and learns to care for her new puppy. Maya lives on fictional Puddin’ Head Island, where everyone wears red and is taught to hate the Sweeties, who favor the color blue. Maya, meanwhile, prefers rainbow-colored shirts and adores her Sweetie best friend, Lily. When Maya, Lily, and Maya’s new puppy, Waggers, have to stay with her uncle for a few days, many opportunities for conflict arise. He is a “True Red Puddin’ Head,” which means he has an almost violent distaste for Sweeties. He has also just planted a pristine new lawn, which he does not want soiled with Waggers’s poop.

Unfortunately, Maya has an almost pathological phobia of scooping dog poop, which she relates in her wry voice that is both funny and relatable. When Uncle Puddin’ Head roars off to work in his monster truck, Maya and Lily go on an all-day journey searching for somewhere Waggers can relieve himself safely, meeting several wacky neighbors in the process. During these adventures Lily comes to realize that Puddin’ Heads are not as evil as she’s been led to believe, and Maya figures out how to be a better pet owner.

One of the most effective scenes is when the two girls are snacking on what Maya calls “puddin’ berries” and Lily calls “sweet berries,” and they realize these delicious fruits are one in the same. The exaggerated strife between the Puddin’ Heads and Sweeties will help kids notice the absurdity of many real-world conflicts, as well as what they have in common with people who have different beliefs. While this lighthearted tale’s focus on Waggers’s bathroom habits, including talk of “fart tarts,” will overwhelm readers who tire of potty jokes, Maya’s acceptance of her responsibility offers a positive example for kids as they take more initiative in their own lives.

Takeaway: Humorous story about a girl overcoming her fears and learning to care for her pet.

Comparable Titles: Carolyn Crimi’s Secondhand Dogs, Carlie Sorosiak’s I, Cosmo.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A-
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-

Kirkus Reviews

A hilarious tale about canine care and political differences.Following Kosmos’ Blaze Union and the Puddin’ Head Schools (2023), this series opener starring Maya deftly captures the childhood spirit that comes with owning a dog. It does a remarkable job of teaching responsibility in an amusing way. The tale also smoothly integrates canine care, an engaging narrative, and political differences, with humor the common thread. Featuring compact illustrations by Mullins, the work manages to celebrate diversity without being didactic. Although some readers may want more details about Maya’s stay with Uncle Kal, the story ends with a funny, smart surprise, allowing the audience to imagine what will happen next.

Literary Titan

Maya and Waggers: I Have to Scoop What? offers readers a charming and insightful glimpse into the life of Maya, a young girl who embarks on the adventure of pet ownership with the arrival of her new puppy, Waggers… It is a light-hearted and enjoyable read that offers a nuanced perspective on young pet ownership, balancing the responsibilities with the intrinsic joy pets bring into our lives…  The book’s humor is subtle yet effective, keeping readers engaged and chuckling from start to finish. The illustrations… enrich the narrative with their delightful visual charm, leaving readers eager for more. Kosmos’s ability to channel a child's viewpoint makes this book a delightful addition to children’s literature.

Reader Views

In the first book of the “Maya and Waggers” series, “I Have to Scoop What?” by W.T. Kosmos, Maya learns to overcome personal fears, societal prejudices, and advanced feelings that place others on a higher level than herself...  Children will not only laugh and enjoy reading Maya and Waggers, but will learn a lot about responsibility, making connections, having fun, and choices... A cute story with relatable text... characters that are curious and relevant... A quick and enjoyable read with laugh-out-loud moments.

The Book Commentary

Maya and Waggers: I Have to Scoop What? by W.T. Kosmos is an entertainingly fresh story that captures the beauty of childhood adventures, friendship, and the responsibilities that come with owning a puppy. This book is a delightful read for children aged 8 and above, packed with humor and lessons about life...  The humor in the story is a highlight, with moments that will make any reader chuckle. From Waggers' antics to Maya's clever solutions to the challenges they face, the book keeps the reader engaged and entertained throughout. The narrative also incorporates important life lessons, such as responsibility and the significance of empathy toward animals. It beautifully illustrates the growth and maturity of the characters as they navigate their adventures together. Maya and Waggers: I Have to Scoop What? is not only a delightful read for children but also an educational and emotionally resonant story that promotes positive values. With its well-crafted characters, humor, and meaningful messages, it's a book that both kids and parents can enjoy together.