Folktale purists will be driven looney tunes, but so what if the tone isn’t completely authentic—who doesn’t like to see a...

TRICKY COYOTE TALES

From the Tricky Journeys series , Vol. 1

Not every folktale collection includes the words “BONK BONK BONK,” but they fit perfectly here.

This is the 21st century, and there’s a demographic sampling of readers who’ve grown up watching Warner Brothers cartoons and listening to Native American trickster tales. This book is for them. Looney Tunes fans will appreciate that Coyote falls off a cliff early in the story. Or, if the readers make a different choice, he’s attacked by wasps or eaten by a giant. The choose-your-own-adventure format allows readers to flip a few pages and sample generations’ worth of Coyote tales. (Thomas’ illustrations are somehow both slapstick and archetypal.) The problem, strangely enough, is that there aren’t enough stories here to fill the book. A segment might end with an inspired trick and an escape from Hill Monsters, or it might just peter out. One segment concludes with Coyote joining a pair of beavers for soup. Still, these 64 pages give readers an entertaining and even well-rounded look at Coyote’s personality: the trickster, fool and occasional wise man of tradition. Later books in the series have a more satisfying range of choices: Tricky Rabbit Tales, Tricky Monkey Tales and Tricky Raven Tales.

Folktale purists will be driven looney tunes, but so what if the tone isn’t completely authentic—who doesn’t like to see a coyote fall off a cliff? (Graphic novel. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7859-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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

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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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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

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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