Adventurous and exciting—and warm and fuzzy, too.

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MONSTER MAYHEM

A robot-building genius named Zoe discovers that making friends is worth the risk of disappointment.

Zoe, a black girl with puffy hair and no tolerance for dresses, is a natural at building complex robots, but she has a hard time making friends. Once, a classmate coaxed her away from her robot to play outside. But Zoe overheard her telling others that they weren’t really friends, and Zoe has avoided peers and shunned the idea of companionship ever since. She is a fan of kaiju—monster movies—and no one knows that she spends her spare time in an abandoned amusement park building a giant robot from spare ride parts. One day, she finds a ring and puts it on, and later that day, a monster from her kaiju movies appears outside her house. Chomp becomes her friend, but his friends and family come after him, and Zoe must find a way to save the city from the horde of building-eating monsters. When she finally turns to her teachers and classmates at her Advanced School of Technology, she discovers that getting help and being friends may not be so bad. The illustrations are endearing, Eliopoulos taking advantage of the graphic-novel format for appropriately cinematic double takes and exaggeratedly funny reactions, and the story will keep readers giggling, gasping, and turning pages all the way to the thoroughly delightful end.

Adventurous and exciting—and warm and fuzzy, too. (Graphic fantasy. 6-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3124-5

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

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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