In an extreme case of adrenalin rush, barely is birthday-party invitee Nash through the door than he’s out of control. He...

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NASH SMASHER

A destructive lad gets a proper outlet for his energies in a story app positively festooned with funny special effects and side business.

In an extreme case of adrenalin rush, barely is birthday-party invitee Nash through the door than he’s out of control. He begins wildly smashing toys, gifts, favors and even the cake—potentially over and over, thanks to touch-activated animations and slidable tabs and wheels on every screen. Clued in at last by the tears raining from fellow partygoers (plus a water level that rises or falls with a slider), he “feels like a twit” and tries unsuccessfully to match the pieces of various damaged toys (with more sliders, “[h]e gives the cake a hat while the doll gets a bat. The train wears a gown and the fish sports a crown”). He is about to depart in disgrace when birthday girl Sue forgivingly hands him a pole and points him toward the piñata. POW! Along with the main actions, tapping or swiping many of the figures and background details in each retro-style cartoon scene activates an animation or sound effect, occasionally a different one each time. On the final page there’s even a digital paintbrush that smears a new layer of “frosting” on the cake. The voiced narration is as smooth as the animations, but it can also be switched off.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2010

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Crab Hill Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

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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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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