Quirky and cosmopolitan Claude’s audience on this side of the pond is likely to be limited, but it may well also be quite...

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CLAUDE IN THE CITY

From the Claude series , Vol. 1

This British import mixes outlandish adventures (or possibly very vivid dreams) with intentionally juvenile jokes to create a zany first (U.S.) entry in a series for transitioning readers.

The episodic plot follows two days in the life of Claude, a talking, beret-wearing dog, and his best friend, a sentient, independently mobile sock named Sir Bobblysock. On the first day, Claude and his friend visit a cafe, enjoy a shopping spree in a hat shop and finish up with a trip to the art museum, where Claude inadvertently foils a robbery. On the next, they take a trip to the hospital since Sir Bobblysock is feeling poorly. While there are no comics or superheroes, some of the wordplay (the doctor’s name is Ivan Achinbum) as well as the display of underwear (both men’s and women’s) in numerous illustrations may remind readers of the perennially popular Captain Underpants series. Smith’s text varies from short, simple declarative sentences typical of early readers to longer, more complex sentences and paragraphs that feature sophisticated vocabulary and concepts. The digitally created artwork resembles pen and ink with pencil shading, and the palette is limited to black, gray and red with coral accents. This color scheme gives the illustrations a distinctly retro feel, while Claude’s vague resemblance to both Underdog and Snoopy creates a cartoon vibe.

Quirky and cosmopolitan Claude’s audience on this side of the pond is likely to be limited, but it may well also be quite enthusiastic. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-697-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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