Perhaps best for young crafting enthusiasts searching for a quiet, gentle read—but even they may be underwhelmed.

CRAFTY CAT AND THE GREAT BUTTERFLY BATTLE

From the Crafty Cat series , Vol. 3

The third in the Crafty Cat series finds elementary schooler Birdie competing for a choice role in the class play.

When the story begins, readers find Birdie’s alter ego, Crafty Cat, putting the finishing touches on a project: a small model of her human form with butterfly wings. Even after transforming back into Birdie, she’s sure her creativity will convince her teacher she’s right for the highly coveted role of the butterfly in her class play. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy: Class bully Anya has come prepared with store-bought, full-sized wings, as have the majority of their classmates. When their teacher asks the classmates to consider other roles, only Anya and Birdie refuse to budge, forcing their teacher to assign parts: Anya as the butterfly and Birdie as the caterpillar. When Anya has a costume snafu, however, Birdie uses her crafting skills to save the day and learn a lesson: “crafting beats clapping.” Readers new to the series may wonder how Birdie’s secret identity works: Does she actually turn into a cat, or is it just her imagination? Why is her crafting alter ego a cat? The low-stakes, lesson-heavy plot feels more like an episode of a preschool TV show than a typical graphic novel, especially with a narrator (delineated with a text box with a pastel mint background) who directly addresses the protagonist: “What a secret, Crafty Cat. Thank you for sharing. Now it’s time for your transformation.” Characters are all paper-white.

Perhaps best for young crafting enthusiasts searching for a quiet, gentle read—but even they may be underwhelmed. (Graphic fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-487-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Silly and inventive fast-paced fun

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INVESTIGATORS

From the InvestiGators series , Vol. 1

A zippy graphic-novel series opener featuring two comically bumbling reptile detectives.

As agents of SUIT (Special Undercover Investigation Team) with customized VESTs (Very Exciting Spy Technology) boasting the latest gadgetry, the bright green InvestiGators Mango and Brash receive their newest assignment. The reptilian duo must go undercover at the Batter Down bakery to find missing mustachioed Chef Gustavo and his secret recipes. Before long, the pair find themselves embroiled in a strange and busy plot with a scientist chicken, a rabid were-helicopter, an escape-artist dinosaur, and radioactive cracker dough. Despite the great number of disparate threads, Green manages to tie up most neatly, leaving just enough intrigue for subsequent adventures. Nearly every panel has a joke, including puns (“gator done!”), poop jokes, and pop-culture references (eagle-eyed older readers will certainly pick up on the 1980s song references), promising to make even the most stone-faced readers dissolve into giggles. Green’s art is as vibrant as an overturned box of crayons and as highly spirited as a Saturday-morning cartoon. Fast pacing and imaginative plotting (smattered with an explosion here, a dance number there) propel the action through a whimsical world in which a diverse cast of humans live alongside anthropomorphized reptiles and dinosaurs. With its rampant good-natured goofiness and its unrelenting fizz and pep, this feels like a sugar rush manifested as a graphic novel.

Silly and inventive fast-paced fun . (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21995-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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