Excellent fun from panel to panel.

FOX & RABBIT

Five laugh-out-loud stories celebrate an unlikely animal friendship.

Carefree Fox and worry-prone Rabbit show that opposites not only attract, but make for great comedy. In their first story together, the pair goes to the fair—which Fox loves because it starts with “F, just like Fox.” While Rabbit gets a little miffed that all of the “un-fair” games are “broken,” Fox keeps winning and winning. In a later story, the pair plant a garden using seeds they found on an adventure. The next day, their greens turn up gobbled (i.e., the vegetables were a little hard for Rabbit to resist). No matter the boon that graces them or mishap that befalls them, their friendship prevails. Picture-book author Ferry’s first foray into comics is an infectiously chipper series opener. Though the panels never exceed nine per page, some complex layouts require familiarity with the medium. Dialogue appears both inside and outside of speech bubbles, mostly in short sentences voiced by separate speakers. Hungarian illustrator Dudás’ full-color graphite and ink illustrations add a pitch-perfect warm and joyful spirit. A few full-page panels capture some truly magical and heartfelt moments, but humor is the tone du jour in these banter-filled stories. The punchline—a late-arriving turtle always asks the pair (or is it trio?) “What’d I miss?”—is the icing on the cake.

Excellent fun from panel to panel. (Graphic early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4077-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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DOG MAN

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 Man comics 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

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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