Not a total hairball, but far from a first purr-chase.

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STUNT CAT ACROSS AMERICA

From the Mr. Puffball series , Vol. 2

Mr. Puffball’s done with being a stunt cat…what’s next for him?

Mr. Puffball came to Hollywood in Stunt Cat to the Stars (2015) to be like his idol, El Gato, and ended up being El Gato’s stunt cat. Now he’s tired of being set on fire and nearly breaking every bone in his body, so he and El Gato have decided to make a buddy picture—they just have to sell it to the suits. Ever unreliable, El Gato leaves Mr. Puffball to pitch their idea, Mac & Cheesy’s Excellent Adventure, alone. It doesn’t matter; the suits like the idea of a buddy pic—but they want Jude Claw and Benedict Cumbercat to star instead of our heroes. The duo has one chance: to make a buddy picture demo reel that is better than Claw and Cumbercat’s. Good thing they have their Hollywood friends to help them out. They embark on a cross-country trek, joining Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, bungee jumping at the Hoover Dam, and leaping over the Grand Canyon (kind of), among other stunts…but someone seems to be sabotaging their efforts. As in the series opener, Lombardo’s second effort is full of spot comics and illustrations, but in this outing, most if not all of the jokes should be accessible to the target audience. That said, the cat puns and slapstick are not as funny as they want to be, and there are few surprises (or laughs). (Final art and aftermatter not seen.)

Not a total hairball, but far from a first purr-chase. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-232068-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good.

THE BAD GUYS IN MISSION UNPLUCKABLE

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 2

The foursome of reformed villains returns with a new mission and new team member in a continued effort to repair their reputations in Blabey's (The Bad Guys, 2017) rollicking sequel.

This second installment opens with our would-be heroes, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Mr. Piranha, fresh from their bold liberation of the local pound, finding that the media is not spinning in their favor. Accused of terrorizing rather than rescuing, the group (at least Mr. Wolf) refuses to admit defeat—"We're the GOOD GUYS here!"—and begins planning a new mission to free innocent chickens from their deplorable confinement in the Sunnyside Chicken Farm. But if the team can't work together—something all the more difficult with the team a little panicked by the addition of Legs (a friendly, tech-genius tarantula) and one of the group suspiciously excited to greet the chickens—a rescue mission may be all but impossible. Despite some language devaluing of mental diversity (“freak out,” “loco,” etc.) that may turn some readers off, Blabey once again deploys moral ambiguity to overall success, challenging fear as a justification for prejudice and mistakes as reasons to give up. The narrative has lost no comic momentum from first to second book, juxtaposing classic riffs on Mission Impossible and new visual gags unique to these delightfully wry characters.

Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91241-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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