Weird and unabashedly joyful.



From the Dog Man series , Vol. 7

Kid comic creators George Beard and Harold Hutchins (now with added maturity!) are thrilled to present readers with the next installment of their co-written graphic-novel series.

A six-page recap of backstory and prior events helps situate readers who might be unfamiliar with the saga, and from there on out the action and the laughs are nonstop. Three loosely connected plot threads dominate. Petey the jailcat’s revolutionary aspirations are cut short when he receives his pardon, but now he struggles to connect with his overly optimistic son and to fend off the abuses of his lowlife father. Dog Man, meanwhile, must learn to focus after one fouled-up chase too many, but the training has its own dire consequences. Meanwhile, a villainous trio and an equally villainous mad scientist find their plans for world domination thwarted again and again. There is a moral, along the lines of being, but more importantly doing, good, but it’s never forced upon readers. Pilkey’s signature style revels in its wackiness. Panels with a single-color gradient background vary in size, and bold black outlines and hilariously full-face expressions make the characters pop. Several full-page panels of a star-studded sky are absolutely breathtaking. The various plots, though they might seem shallow at first, still make for a gripping read. Extensive backmatter, including in-story news, drawing tutorials, and “authors’ ” notes, rounds out the fun. Human characters are diverse.

Weird and unabashedly joyful. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23659-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2019

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


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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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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