DOG SQUAD

From the Dog Squad series , Vol. 1

An unlikely dog becomes the star of a popular dog adventure television show in this series opener.

Fred the dog is a “bitzer. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” He idolizes Dog Squad, a television show featuring live-action dogs in daring escapades, and its canine leading star, Duke. Since Fred’s original owner dumped him at an animal shelter, he’s been living in New York City with Big Tony, who hopes to turn him into a ferocious guard dog and sell him for a big profit. An alley confrontation lands Fred back in the animal shelter, but this time he’s rescued by entertainment industry animal trainer Jenny Yen and her young niece (and self-proclaimed pet psychic), Abby. Ideal for reluctant readers with its short chapters, energetic illustrations, plentiful action, and “pawsome” puns, this light fantasy follows Fred, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Duke, as he adopts the starring role in Dog Squad when Duke becomes injured. But does this unassuming dog have what it takes to be a hero both on and off the camera when a natural disaster, a dognapper, and more disasters strike? Teamwork from Abby and co-stars help guide the way and set the scene for more installments. An author’s note touchingly describes the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series creator’s source of inspiration: his own Fred, a formerly stray, retired Broadway canine star.

Doggone fun. (Animal fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30173-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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