Ethically iffy there at the end but overall a lighter-than-air escapade with just a light wash of satire.

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NIGHT OF THE LIVING SHADOWS

From the Speed Bump & Slingshot Misadventures series , Vol. 2

A Bird Scout scavenger hunt sends avian buddies Speed Bump and Slingshot into that scariest of all places…a shopping mall.

Little Speed Bump is understandably frantic as he sets out late to gather “something that turns, / something that’s pink, / something that burns, / something that stinks” to earn his Scavenger Badge. Guided by an overcaffeinated nuthatch, the two Bird Scouts slip through the glass doors into a crowded mall. There they are so beguiled by the pleasures of the food court (pizza crumbs, french fries, and “Pieces of cookie WITH CHOCOLATE STILL IN THEM!”) that they doze past closing time. One spooky night later, Speed Bump stows away in a purse to get out—and is trapped in a car that speeds off, with his would-be rescuers flapping desperately in pursuit. Coverly casts the outing partly in short passages of narrative but mostly in big, loosely drawn pen-and-ink cartoons with dialogue balloons and no end of sight gags, from a “Moltzart” poster in Speed Bump’s bedroom to shops with names like “Starbeaks” and “Bird Bath & Beyond.” Human figures are mostly white when they’re not just scribbles in the background. Ultimately the Scouts earn their badges by ransacking that purse for a key, lipstick, red-hot candies, and a spritzer of “Parfum.”

Ethically iffy there at the end but overall a lighter-than-air escapade with just a light wash of satire. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8887-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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