High-intensity, heartwarming, and, above all, hysterically funny.

GRIME AND PUNISHMENT

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 9

All you need is love in this epic ninth installment in the saga of Dog Man and friends.

In important local news, comic creators George and Harold would like to announce that they “TOTALLY got FAMOUS!” before diving into their “next tale of depth and maturity.” And this story, more so than previous adventures, delivers on that promise. Things go wrong right from the outset, when Dog Man is fired from the police force after wreaking doggy havoc at an award ceremony (a poignant rendering of an especially relevant adult fear). Li’l Petey and 80-HD’s haphazard plan to turn their canine friend feline in order to get him rehired conveniently tumbles into a smashing subplot involving Grampa Pete’s latest dastardly plan to destroy the city. Li’l Petey finally reconciles his irrepressible optimism with his father’s stubborn shield of hatred, precipitating the aptly named “Love vs. Hate” final battle. Darker themes, such as parental abandonment and death, are also touched upon, creating the story’s most powerful and moving moments. Indeed, the story generally represents the Dog Man series at its best. Whether through nifty Star Wars references, time-honored slapstick, self-aware wordplay, or plain old wackiness, Pilkey’s comic genius is out in full force. Illustrations, from intimate single-character squares to full-page action blocks, are vivid and lively, and the expressiveness in the cartoon faces only augments the delightful text.

High-intensity, heartwarming, and, above all, hysterically funny. (“authors’ ” notes, art tutorials) (Graphic fantasy. 7-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-53562-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence.

THE LAND OF ROAR

From the Land of Roar series , Vol. 1

A fantasy world comes to life and lures its young creators back into it in this imaginative middle-grade debut and U.K. import.

Narrator Arthur always loved playing make-believe in Grandad’s attic with his twin sister, Rose. Years ago they dreamed up Roar, a magical land that they entered via an old fold-up cot that acted as a portal. Now that they are 11 and starting school at Langdon Academy, Rose has new friends and wants nothing to do with her brother or their imaginary world. Rose may be done with Roar, but it’s not finished with her. When their grandfather is kidnapped and taken into Roar, Arthur and Rose must team up to mount a rescue mission. McLachlan does an excellent job of establishing the sibling tension before introducing the fantasy elements, and Rose’s desire to grow up and fit in feels as familiar and accessible as Arthur’s yearning to remain a child. While obviously reminiscent of classic fantasy, this narrative’s sheer inventiveness marks it as distinct. The twins’ widowed grandfather, a larger-than-life jokester from Mauritius, is a Peter Pan–like figure whose abduction brings the narrative into Roar, allowing the text and Mantle’s illustrations to go wild with creativity. The use of a wordless double-page spread to depict Arthur’s arrival into the fantasy realm is particularly inventive. Arthur and Rose are depicted as kids of color.

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-298271-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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