The overall lack of action or a plotline hints that this may be intended more as a fill-in-the-blanks gag than a series of...

MONSTERS VS. KITTENS

A seemingly bland comparison of cute cartoon kittens and equally cuddly monsters offers customizing features that allow aspiring writers all the narrative freedom they might desire.

“Monsters are big. Kittens are small.” To these and similarly innocuous lines, Jones matches scenes of rotund brutes and little felines posing together, with minor animations and tap-activated, low-volume growls and mewing added. Despite all the differences, the two also turn out to have plenty in common, from “They are both warm and cuddly,” to “They don’t care what their friends look like.” The redoubtable Lee himself adds star power with an emotive "Read To Me" narration. Some discreet farting paired to “Monsters smell weird” is about as far as the envelope gets pushed—at least on the first run-through. Start over or tap the “create” icon, however, and the text on each screen vanishes for a keyboard that allows children to type in, or to voice with the microphone option activated, a (savable) text—any text—of their own. Budding artists aren’t forgotten but have fewer options; floating pencils turn out to be just icons to open ribbon menus that allow some switching of selected figures’ colors or shapes, but there’s no free drawing.

The overall lack of action or a plotline hints that this may be intended more as a fill-in-the-blanks gag than a series of opportunities for story crafting, but there’s still a lot of scope for invention. (iPad storybook app. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Storypanda

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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What a wag.

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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