Swimmingly delightful and a guaranteed smile-maker.

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NARWHAL

UNICORN OF THE SEA

From the Narwhal and Jelly series , Vol. 1

Undersea adventures have never been so darn cute.

One day the unceasingly cheerful Narwhal finds himself “in new waters” and meets his soon-to-be best friend, the slightly apprehensive Jelly the jellyfish. Narwhal has never met a jellyfish, and Jelly has never met a narwhal; the two learn about each other through a lively exchange of facts. Their aquatic adventures are plentiful: they read books together, try to form a not-exclusively-narwhal pod, and daydream about waffles and robots. Jokes abound, giving this a lighthearted animated sensibility. Cool pelagic blues mingle with a merry sunshine yellow over simple, line-based characters, creating a homespun, whimsical feel that works well to evince their buoyant escapades and uncomplicated happiness. Expression lines visually punctuate the illustrations, giving the characters a lively boost. When Narwhal gets a good idea, his tusk lights up to emit jolly, ochre lines; Jelly’s sometimes-dour moods are communicated with scribbly black clouds hovering overhead. Together, Narwhal and Jelly navigate the intricacies of making a friendship work, discovering that friends can share a great time together even when engaged in the most pedestrian activities. The incessant charm and unabashed joy should make this an easy sell.

Swimmingly delightful and a guaranteed smile-maker. (Graphic fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-91826-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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