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From the Lowriders in Space series , Vol. 1

A highly entertaining and culturally authentic romp.

Camper’s lighthearted, full-color graphic novel highlights lowrider culture.

There is much that makes it stand out: Its theme is unique for this age group; Lupe Impala, the female protagonist, is a mechanic; and peppered throughout this crazy adventure are nifty factoids and colorful Chicano/Mexican-American slang. Lupe and her friends Elirio Malaria, the mosquito detailing artist (“Don’t be scared eses! Only lady mosquitos bite vatos for food!”), and El Chavo Blackjack, a bucket-dwelling octopus who’s an eight-armed, car-washing powerhouse, dream of one day owning their own garage. Spotting a poster for a car competition, they know the Golden Steering Wheel Award and a carload of cash are as good as theirs—if they can find a car. A field trip yields a junk pile on blocks—an Impala, natch—that “only” needs major, reconstructive body work, paint, an engine….Some serendipitous rocket parts launch the trio and their newly souped-up lowrider on a wild ride through space: “I don’t think we’re in the barrio anymore!” observes El Chavo Flapjack cheerily. Raúl the Third’s crosshatched, ballpoint-pen–and-Sharpie artwork is highly detailed and dynamic, its black, blue and red lines on buff-colored paper depicting a street corner aguas frescas pushcart and the lowrider’s hydraulic suspension system with equal verve. A glossary of Spanish, slang and astronomical terms is appended, as is a note about lowriders for readers not in the know.

A highly entertaining and culturally authentic romp. (Graphic adventure. 9-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2155-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel.

Sandy and his family, Japanese Canadians, experience hatred and incarceration during World War II.

Sandy Saito loves baseball, and the Vancouver Asahi ballplayers are his heroes. But when they lose in the 1941 semifinals, Sandy’s dad calls it a bad omen. Sure enough, in December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in the U.S. The Canadian government begins to ban Japanese people from certain areas, moving them to “dormitories” and setting a curfew. Sandy wants to spend time with his father, but as a doctor, his dad is busy, often sneaking out past curfew to work. One night Papa is taken to “where he [is] needed most,” and the family is forced into an internment camp. Life at the camp isn’t easy, and even with some of the Asahi players playing ball there, it just isn’t the same. Trying to understand and find joy again, Sandy struggles with his new reality and relationship with his father. Based on the true experiences of Japanese Canadians and the Vancouver Asahi team, this graphic novel is a glimpse of how their lives were affected by WWII. The end is a bit abrupt, but it’s still an inspiring and sweet look at how baseball helped them through hardship. The illustrations are all in a sepia tone, giving it an antique look and conveying the emotions and struggles. None of the illustrations of their experiences are overly graphic, making it a good introduction to this upsetting topic for middle-grade readers.

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel. (afterword, further resources) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0334-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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