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Galactic Hot Dogs 2

The Wiener Strikes Back

Created by Max Brallier / Illustrated by Rachel Maguire and Nichole Kelley



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About The Book

From the creator of the bestselling series The Last Kids on Earth! In this second installment of Cosmoe’s wild space adventures, the fearless hot-dog-selling crew take their wares to the circus only to discover things are not as they seem!

Nothing goes better with the circus than a good wiener! So, when Neon Wiener is offered a position as the official food cart for Crostini’s Cosmic Carnival and Wonder Circus Train, Humphree is over the moon. Cosmoe feels more skeptical that the offer may be too good to be true, but after he unexpectedly demonstrates incredible monster-taming skills in a heroic display, he’s hooked.

The circus-goers can’t get enough Galactic Hot Dogs, and between the death-defying acts and highly unusual employees, the carnival offers endless entertainment for Cosmoe, Humphree, and Princess Dagger. But they soon discover there’s more to the glitz and showmanship than meets the eye—in fact, the hot-dog-loving crew may be in more danger than ever before. And getting to the bottom of the circus’s secrets may mean confronting Cosmoe’s troubled past.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Galactic Hot Dogs 2: The Wiener Strikes Back

By Max Brallier

Illustrated by Rachel Maguire and Nichole Kelley

About the Book

Space adventurers Cosmoe the Earth-Boy, Humphree the Space Pirate, and daredevil Princess Dagger are off to the circus to sell their famous Galactic Hot Dogs. Crostini’s Cosmic Carnival and Wonder Circus has monsters galore—and soon Cosmoe finds himself working as a monster tamer. But there’s a dangerous side to Crostini and his crew that leads to wild fights and chases as Cosmoe faces his darkest fears. Zany pictures, snappy dialogue, and nonstop action will keep readers captivated from beginning to end.

Prereading Questions

What is courage? What inspires ordinary people to be courageous? What might prompt you to risk your safety for a good cause?

Discussion Questions

1. Humphree says to Cosmoe, “We all got pasts . . .. You keep your stuff to yourself as long as you like.” Find places in the first sixteen chapters where Cosmoe refers to, but doesn’t explain, his history with circuses. Before you reached the chapter where they visit Earth, what did you think Cosmoe’s past might have been?

2. Describe Crostini and his role in the plot. What are some clues early on that he can’t be trusted? Why does Cosmoe work for Crostini?

3. Crostini’s Cosmic Carnival and Wonder Circus has many aspects to it. Describe the circus including the train, circus acts, and animals.

4. Cosmoe says early in the book, “For your friends, sometimes you do stuff that makes you uncomfy. Sometimes you even face your deepest, darkest fears . . . “ Do you agree? What fears does he face in the book and which of those does he face for his friends?

5. When Cosmoe realizes that the circus menagerie is in danger, he says it’s his “duty” to save them. Why does he feel that way? What does his belief show about his character? Do you think that it’s his duty?

6. Cosmoe fights a number of creatures. What is the Amaruuk like? How about the Skorlax? And the lyanux? Choose one fight and explain how Cosmoe defeats the monster.

7. When fighting the lyanux, Cosmoe says he and his friends are in “full-on Hollywood-blockbuster mode.” What does he mean by that? How do that scene and others resemble a big Hollywood movie?

8. Discuss characteristics of a mad scientist. Where have you encountered that kind of character before in movies, television, books, or video games? How well does Crostini fit the role of a mad scientist?

9. What is the plan that Crostini and the Evil Queen are working on? How do Cosmoe and his friends try to stop them?

10. F.R.E.D. doesn’t appear often but does come in handy in some tight situations. Describe different ways that F.R.E.D. is helpful to Cosmoe and what Cosmoe’s attitude is toward F.R.E.D.

11. Cosmoe and Humphree end up as opponents in a gladiator-type fight. What leads to the encounter? Why is it psychologically hard for Cosmoe? How does the fight get resolved?

12. Cosmoe gets emotional when they arrive on Earth. Why is he sad? How do his friends react to Cosmoe’s feelings and to learning about his past?

13. Cosmoe calls the Wrangler a “villainous villain.” What does the Wrangler do that’s evil? How do Cosmoe and his friends defeat him?

14. Describe some of the special devices, like the jetsuit, that Cosmoe uses in his fights and elsewhere. What devices do the villains use?

15. “SPLOOT!” and “SQUAWK!” appear in pictures early in the book. Make a list of some other words for sounds that appear in the text and pictures throughout the book. Which of the words have you used yourself or seen elsewhere? What do they add to the story?

16. Cosmoe sometimes uses questions in his narration. Find examples and discuss the effect of questions on the reader. Do you find Cosmoe’s voice to be effective as a narrator?

17. Find a double-page spread that is one big picture with just a few or no words. Describe the picture in detail and talk about what it adds to the story. Why do you think the book’s creators chose to include some pictures with so few words?

Extension Activities

Next Wild Ride

What will Cosmoe and his friends do next? Imagine what their next adventure will be and make a comic strip to illustrate it. Share your creation in print or online with the rest of the group. Free websites for making comic books include and

Awesome Adventure Goals

Princess Dagger has a list of exciting adventures she wants to have before her mother catches up with her. Make your own list of at least ten possible adventures you’d like to have. Print the list, starting with the one you want to do most, and compare your list with everyone else’s adventure goals.

Intergalactic Play-by-Play

Pick one of the exciting scenes in the story and write a narration for it as if you were a sports announcer, giving a play-by-play description of what happens. Make it as exciting as you can. Perform the play-by-play for the rest of the group.

Your Circus Act

The story mentions different acts in the circus, from animal tamer to clown. Talk about these different roles and which one interests you the most. Come up with a circus name for yourself like Cosmoe the Magnificent. Describe what your act would entail and why you think you’d enjoy it.

What Do You Do Well?

Cosmoe lists four things that he does well including playing video games and whistling. Come up with your own list of what you do well, including small things. Add some things you’d like to learn to do too. Do items on your lists overlap with anyone else’s in the group? What’s the point of doing something well?

Circus Talk

The circus has special words associated with it such as wrangler, reubens, calliope, and the midway. Find other examples in the text and define the circus-related words either from your own knowledge, the context in the story, or a dictionary.

Smash Hammer Derby Blast

Cosmoe and Humphree have invented a game called Smash Hammer Derby Blast, for which they record five rules. In pairs or teams, invent your own crazy game with outer-space elements as part of it. Explain the rules to the rest of the group and describe how to win the game.

Guide written by Kathleen Odean, a former school librarian and Chair of the 2002 Newbery Award Committee. She gives professional development workshops on books for young people and is the author of Great Books for Girls and Great Books about Things Kids Love.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

About The Author

Ruby Brallier

Max Brallier is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than thirty books for children and adults. His books and series include The Last Kids on Earth, Eerie Elementary, Mister Shivers, Galactic Hot Dogs, and Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? Max lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. Follow Max on Twitter @MaxBrallier or visit him at

About The Illustrators

Rachel Maguire is an award-winning illustrator and animator. She teaches comics to children and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Jon, and her cat, Becky.

Nichole Kelley does not like to define herself as any specific kind of artist. In the past she has worked professionally as an animator, illustrator, and designer. This combination has allowed her to work on a variety of awesome projects, including web animation, casual games, console games, board games, and children’s illustration. In her free time, she enjoys video games, board games, toys, crafting of all sorts, and sleeping. Her latest venture is learning how to make glass beads and marbles.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin (June 9, 2020)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534478008
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 570L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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