This clever celebration of individuality delights.

READ REVIEW

ODD DUCK

A sublime tale of two strange ducks who overcome the odds—pun completely intended—and become friends.

Theodora is an odd duck indeed: She spends her days swimming with a teacup balanced on her head, flavoring her duck pellets with mango salsa and watching the stars. She is content, her days are full—but they’re not quite fulfilling. One fateful day, a new duck named Chad moves next door. He’s strange, unstructured, disorderly and loud—the opposite of quietly meticulous Theodora. Despite his eccentricities—and her initial judgment of him—the pair bond over a shared love of the stars. During an outing, another duck loudly points out that “odd duck” as the pair waddle past. Each thinks that the other must be the odd one, resulting in an argument. As Theodora ponders their fight, she realizes that though she’s happy with her life, it doesn’t mean much without someone to share it with. A moral that could have been nauseatingly saccharine in the hands of a lesser author is handled deftly here. Castellucci and Varon shine together, with Varon’s trademark animal characters and Castellucci’s careful prose. Readers expecting a typical graphic novel may be a bit put off; reading like a long picture book, this is reliant on illustrations that stretch across an entire page as opposed to many boxy, structured panels, resulting in a wonderfully odd and endearing little offering.

This clever celebration of individuality delights. (Graphic fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-557-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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

DOG MAN AND CAT KID

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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