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Children's Fiction Science Fiction

Mega-Dogs of New Kansas

by (author) Dan Jolley

illustrated by Jacques Khouri

Lerner Publishing Group
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Science Fiction, Dogs, Action & Adventure
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 6
  • Reading age: 9 to 10


The story of a girl and her dog—in space.
Sienna Barlow loves nothing more than riding around New Kansas on top of her mega-dog, Gus. He's one of the massive pooches protecting the human settlers of a strange planet. In fact, Sienna connects better with Gus than with other kids. So when a visiting official threatens to shut down the mega-dog program, Sienna sneaks off with her best friend. After she, Gus, and a stowaway crash their escape ship, they discover a danger to every human in their community—and launch a wild plan to save New Kansas.

About the authors

Dan Jolley began writing professionally at the age of 19. Since starting out in comic books, he has worked for DC (Firestorm), Marvel (Dr. Strange), Dark Horse (Aliens), and Image (G.I. Joe). He later branched out into licensed-property novels (Star Trek), film novelizations (Iron Man), and original novels, including the urban fantasy series Five Elements and the Audible Original House of Teeth. Working with Erin Hunter, he has scripted the manga stories set in the Warriors universe. Dan lives with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert felines in northwest Georgia. Readers can learn more about him at

Dan Jolley's profile page

Jacques Khouri makes animated films, works on commercials, teaches, and draws comics for a living. His influences range from animated cartoons to European and American comics. He currently lives in Montreal. You can find his work at and Please follow him on Tumblr or Instagram at @ijotalot.

Jacques Khouri's profile page


  • Winner, Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grades
  • Winner, Junior Library Guild Selection

Editorial Reviews

"Nearly 300 years in the future, Sienna Barlow lives on New Kansas, where gigantic canines known as mega-dogs are bred to protect Earthlings who have settled on the planet. Sienna, whose parents breed and train the canines, loves to explore with her dog, Gus, but her anxiety makes her clam up around other kids. Kevin, a new kid who thinks she's stuck-up, plays a prank on her and Gus during Vice President Hale's visit. (The political reasoning for his visit is a bit convoluted, especially for the intended age group.) Kevin drops a diamond ant onto Gus, which makes him itch uncontrollably, but when Gus accidentally wreaks havoc, the vice president is turned against the entire mega-dog program and Gus is locked up. To prevent him from being put down, Sienna busts him out, and the two of them run off in a spaceship—with Kevin as their stowaway. Together, they brave the wilds of New Kansas and uncover valuable information regarding the outpost's new power plant. Khouri's expressive artwork features a muted palette reminiscent of vintage space comics. Sienna is tan-skinned with black hair, while Kevin is light-skinned and blond; characters throughout appear to be diverse. While the story is scattershot and the thread about Sienna's anxiety is dropped once she and Kevin have to work together, there's enough adventure to keep readers turning pages. VERDICT This space age graphic ­novel doesn't quite live up to its premise, but dog fans will be pleased."—School Library Journal


"Fifty-six light-years from Earth, a young girl and her prodigious pup try to navigate their extraterrestrial outpost.
In the year 2318, Sienna Barlow lives with her parents on New Kansas, in the agricultural settlement of Alexandria. Her father is the mayor, and her mother, Marion, is the head dog trainer. Marion breeds mega-dogs: gigantic canines that help herd the dust crows, a large emu-like bird. Sienna has her own shaggy, good-natured mega-dog named Gus, a constant companion who helps her with her extreme anxiety, which often leaves her unable to talk to the other kids. After a prank perpetrated by a couple other kids goes amiss, a visiting politician deems the mega-dogs dangerous, and Gus is impounded. Sienna and Gus steal a spaceship to run away, but the ship crashes shortly after takeoff. Her survival depends on her ability to work with another young boy named Kevin who had stowed away on their transport. They soon learn that the danger they face may be bigger than they ever imagined. Jolley's graphic offering is very clever, with its accessible worldbuilding abetted by Khouri's eye-catching sepia-hued illustrations. Sienna's social anxiety is palpable on the page, and her struggles are handled in an approachable way. Sienna has olive skin and straight, dark hair; Kevin presents White. Secondary and background characters are racially diverse.
An inventive intergalactic romp."—Kirkus Reviews