A cute ode to pizza and human ingenuity.

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ALIEN NATE

Alien Nate’s mission to bring pizza to the Vegans is threatened by men in beige suits.

Alien Nate hails from planet Vega, where everyone is named Nate because the planet’s technological advances have dulled all the Nates’ imaginations. This hasn’t proven to be a problem until the Vegans intercept Voyager I, sent from Earth with information about our civilization and…a pizza. Without the tools or the creativity to make their own pies, the Vegans send Nate on an expedition to Earth, his mission to gain more of the delicious food. When Nate is shipwrecked on arrival in a snowy region of North America, he encounters Fazel, a brown-skinned immigrant boy who protects him from the men in beige suits and teaches him the ways of Earth and pizza. While tasting all the food he can get and experiencing different toppings on pizza—the pineapple-on-pizza debate is tackled—Nate enlists the help of Fazel and friends to fix his spaceship and bring the secret of the ’za back to Vega. Whamond fills the book’s pages with expressive illustrations and absurd and comical questions and observations about the human experience as seen through the eyes of an alien—one who loves not just pizza, but also the humans who create the pizza, including all the noises (both voluntary and un-) that leak from them.

A cute ode to pizza and human ingenuity. (Graphic science fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0209-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

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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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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