Proof that courage and loyalty are superpowers too…even for species that can’t emit ultrasonic blasts.


From the Burt the Beetle series

“I’m more of a hugger,” says the eponymous six-legged guide through the world of insect powers and superpowers.

Ants can carry 50 times their weight; hawk moths emit ultrasonic blasts to confuse predatory bats; nasute termites spray paralyzing venom; and stink bugs—well, “Super gross. But also super cool.” But June beetles…can’t do those things. Nor, as Burt the 10-lined June beetle unwillingly proves, can they run fast, fly very well, or even tap dance. They do have sticky legs, for what it’s worth—which is, it turns out, quite a lot when the only way to rescue friends from a spider’s web of “sticky bum strings” is to hug the spider and hold on. “What…is…happening?” gasps the arrested arachnid, all eight legs dangling limply as a beatific Burt clasps it tight—then: “Oh, crumbs.” Following a final group clinch, a closing gallery adds even more insect facts and friends. In the wake of Fairy Science (2019), Spires here flits to a different area of STEM for another playful but informative gander at the natural world that likewise artfully stirs a light load of fact into a mix of cartoon-style illustrations and banter. Along with effortlessly absorbing the former while enjoying the latter, readers may well find it easy to embrace the wonders that the insect world presents to anyone willing to take a closer look. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Proof that courage and loyalty are superpowers too…even for species that can’t emit ultrasonic blasts. (Graphic nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0146-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

What a wag.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Mancomics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?