Adorable and innovative



Two otherworldly beings forge an unlikely friendship and navigate their own insecurities and jealousies.

In the land of Chasma, where knights reign supreme, the Neon Knights are the laughingstock. All of the other knights, including the strong Sulfurs and powerful Oxygens, can “catalyze” with Toys—cute creatures reminiscent of Pokémon—and can combine their intrinsic elemental powers with those of the cuddly-looking, power-boosting companions. Beryl, a bubblegum-pink Neon Knight, yearns to catalyze but cannot, instead spending her days turning broken Toys into new creations that are awesome in their own right. Beryl befriends lemon-lime Coro, an ostentatious Oxygen Knight who is a dealer at the Toy Market. Each one is quietly jealous of the other’s ability: Coro of Beryl’s ingenuity and Beryl of Coro’s ability to catalyze. Through a series of missteps, the pair eventually learn to enjoy both their own gifts and the strength their relationship yields. Sun and Petty’s graphic-novel worldbuilding is well-wrought and easily accessible, making a tale of jealousy and friendship feel immensely new and fresh. With meticulously designed panels and a clean layout, Sun’s illustrations are imaginatively rendered with a whimsical palette of candy-inspired hues including a cheery lemon-sorbet–tinged yellow, a fiery cinnamon red, and a grand, grape-y purple. Although the book is a stand-alone, do not be surprised if kids demand more adventures (and wish for a Toy of their own!) in this charmingly inventive world.

Adorable and innovative . (Graphic science fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-604-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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


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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What a wag.

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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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