It’s a little labored, but poop jokes never get old, right? (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-9)

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NIGHT OF THE LIVING WORMS

From the Speed Bump & Slingshot Misadventures series , Vol. 1

Early Bird’s underachieving little brother finally gets a taste of worm in this daft series opener.

Too proud to accept any worm he hasn’t caught or at least earned himself but unable, despite repeated efforts, to beat his annoyingly zippy sibling out of the nest in the morning, Tweety Pie–look-alike Speed Bump (related only in name to the author’s syndicated cartoon) at last nerves himself to take a scary pre-dawn stroll—and comes upon a veritable convention of angry Nightcrawlers setting a trap for Early. Coverly sets up and presents the outing in a mix of prose and pen-and-ink sketches, with the pictures tending to shoulder out the text. Both, however, are liberally festooned with gags, sight gags, potty humor, and puns: “They hatched plans, but got eggsasperated because they knew none of them would work, and this was no yolking matter.” Speed Bump is assisted by avian sidekick Slingshot, who is first met gleefully shooting an unwary squirrel in the “derrière” with a berry. He also enlists unlikely new buds Soda Pop the mouse and Hoover the owl to help spring the trap (prematurely). Unfortunately, his squirmy reward leaves him scurrying off in search of vegetarian fare (“CHEESABLE MERCY! WORMS ARE DISGUSTING!”) and further misadventures.

It’s a little labored, but poop jokes never get old, right? (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8886-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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