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As comforting as a lazy afternoon making biscuits.

“Before he was the protector of Metro City…he was…absolutely adorable!”

This graphic novel is a prequel to the series Cat Ninja, written by Matthew Cody and illustrated by Yehudi Mercado and Chad Thomas, though readers don’t need to be familiar with those books to enjoy this one. What was the intrepid superhero cat like when he was a youngster? As it turns out, not all that different from any other kitten: He spent his days stretching, sleeping, and staring at birds. Each chapter opens with Kitten portrayed as an action hero in the Cat Ninja visual style before he settles into more sedentary habits. Stubbings employs thick black outlines with rounded forms; Kitten Ninja is a rotund loaf with soft edges. His opponents include a beam of light, a ball of yarn, and inclement weather. There are two to four panels per page, and they are used effectively. Some panels show the passage of time, as when a beam of light moves across the floor while a clock’s moving hands indicate the passage of time. The narrator directly addresses Kitten Ninja, making this story a great option for read-alouds. Each chapter ends with an observation that an obstacle “never stood a chance” against Kitten Ninja; neither will anyone with a soft spot for cats. Ninja has a beige-skinned owner who cuddles with him while reading and knitting.

As comforting as a lazy afternoon making biscuits. (Graphic fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9781524888190

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

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

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A close encounter of the best kind.

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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