BALLAD

Pictured in a long spate of silkscreen tableaux bound up in a small, bricklike volume, a bored child’s daydream zigzags its way into an increasingly wild fantasy adventure.

Printed (seemingly) on rough denim, the grainy, stylized scenes are designed to be understood at a glance and paged through quickly. Staid opening images of a school, a road and a house are transformed by both increasing detail and the appearances of new characters. These range from a pair of bandits and a witch to a duster-wearing stranger, police officers, soldiers, a dragon and others. Even as both characters and visual complexity multiply, readers are further shaken up by scenery occasionally being turned upside down and later sideways. Ultimately, the stranger becomes a protagonist who escapes various dangers, discovers treasure and rescues a princess from a sorcerer. With her, he defeats the witch amid bolts of spell-cast lightning…and comes home at last. Aside from allusive chapter heads—“A hero is revealed. During a long and perilous journey several scores are settled. In the forest, night itself is an enchantress”—the narrative is entirely composed of one- or two-word identifiers beneath each picture that are strung into sequences (“The school, / the road, / home”) while, occasionally, themselves turning upside down or even vanishing in part: “the     .” Despite an unconventional presentation and dizzying twists, the tale ends up on a classic course. The delicious temptation to take an active role in the surreal adventure by adding details or even whole subplots will be hard to resist. (Picture book. 6-9)

 

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59270-137-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

What a wag.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Questioneers fans will not be disappointed; new fans will find this outing a timely introduction to the series.

SOFIA VALDEZ AND THE VANISHING VOTE

From the Questioneers series

The Questioneers are back for a new early chapter book, this one featuring Sofia Valdez, of Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (2019) fame.

Sofia and her friends from Miss Greer’s second grade class are back for another adventure. This time around, an election to select the new class pet offers lots of what Miss Greer likes to call Learning Experiences. Young civic activist Sofia is put in charge of managing the election, which pits candidates backed by two of her best friends against one another. Meanwhile, her cousin Marisella grapples with a pet problem of her own. Between friends and family, the election pulls Sofia in all directions, and she realizes that overseeing a fair election that runs smoothly proves to be a real challenge. Fortunately, she has sage advice from Abuelo and help from the local library to guide her. The short chapters and ample illustrations make for an accessible and entertaining early chapter book, full of fun and, yes, learning experiences. Extensive backmatter includes information on the importance of a free press, the true historical events behind Abuelo’s stories, and more information on how the voting process in the United States works. Sofia and her family have brown skin and are of Mexican heritage; her friends are diverse; and Miss Greer presents White. Marisella uses a wheelchair.

Questioneers fans will not be disappointed; new fans will find this outing a timely introduction to the series. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4350-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more