Like fast food, this is quick and goes down easy.

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CATCH THE MUNCHIES!

From the Carlton Crumple Creature Catch series , Vol. 1

When fast-food-frenzied monsters descend, only one hero can save the day.

Bespectacled Carlton Crumple is relentlessly terrorized by his mulleted older brother, Milt, and grows up fearful of everything. Talking to his best friend, Lulu, Carlton has a sudden insight, deciding to stop being scared and to become a creature catcher. He lands a job at Chubbzy Cheeseburgers but is sternly reprimanded when he replaces the ketchup with his superspicy Awesome Chili Sauce. When a horde of fast-food–obsessed (but not-too-scary) monsters attack, Carlton Crumple, Creature Catcher, and his special sauce may be key to stopping them. This middle-grade graphic offering is the first in a proposed series (with a promised second volume entitled Tater Invaders). Writer and illustrator Fremont’s animation background is highly visible here, with fast pacing, quirky characters, and ample silliness. Driven by its jet-fueled plotting, young readers careen from one side-splitting scene to the next as the simply wrought, full-color (courtesy of Matison) cartoons rocket sequences along. Those who enjoy complex characters may be at a loss, but those who want their humor to have a fast and furious velocity should be right at home here, making this perfect for fans of series like Chris Schweizer’s The Creeps or Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady. Carlton appears to be white; secondary characters display various skin tones.

Like fast food, this is quick and goes down easy. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64595001-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Pixel+Ink

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A whimsical rumination on friendship and being present in the moment.

BUG BOYS

In this quiet graphic novel, two beetle buddies share gentle adventures.

Rhino-B is a bold rhinoceros beetle who lives with his BFF, a stag beetle named Stag-B, in their charming mushroom home in Bug Village. In a series of vignettes, the duo experience their world by visiting the Insects’ Library, maintained by their friend Dome Spider; helping a neighboring beehive to obtain a lost crown from treacherous termites; and exploring the Deep Dirt Cave with Dome Spider and finding themselves in a bizarrely psychedelic moment. The beetles’ exploits may be unusual, but their friendship and its dynamics are familiar. While episodic, their adventures are low-key, with a meditative feel and an emphasis on staying focused in the present; one night, as the bugs gaze into the night sky, reflecting on anxieties around growing up, Stag-B sagely asserts, “The Earth is big and life is long. Just appreciate where you are now.” Readers looking for fast pacing or plot-driven works may be put off by the insistent introspection, but it will hit the spot for quieter readers. Knetzger’s background as a storyboard artist for the cartoon Adventure Time is highly visible, sharing its playfully absurdist feel throughout and even its dreamy pastel-hued aesthetic (supplied by Lynde). Rhino-B and Stag-B both identify as male.

A whimsical rumination on friendship and being present in the moment. (beetle facts) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9676-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A knight’s tale in shining armor

MAX AND THE MIDKNIGHTS

In the 14th century, young Max yearns to buck convention and be a knight.

In this fictional, European-esque kingdom, Max lives with Uncle Budrick, a comically terrible troubadour. Children in Byjovia follow in the career footsteps of their families; Max however, dreams not of songs and lutes but of becoming a knight. When Budrick is captured by the nefarious usurper King Gastley, Max finds a crew of like-minded kids and forms the Midknights. Together they fight an evil sorceress, zombies, and winged rats in their efforts to save Max’s uncle and, ultimately, the kingdom from Gastley’s evil grasp. This middle-grade graphic/prose hybrid plays with gender conventions, mixing in a feel-good theme reaffirming that everyone should be able to follow their dreams and defy pre-existing gender constructs. Plucky, gender-nonconforming Max makes a heartfelt soliloquy imploring the king to allow both girls and boys to pursue what they love, be it magic, knighthood, or writing. The zippy mix of prose and comics panels rockets along with quick plotting and lots of funny medieval madcap antics. Peirce’s black-and-white illustrations will be stylistically familiar to fans of his Big Nate series and should resonate with fans of Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid. Main character Max presents white, as are most of the Midknights with the exception of one dark-skinned boy; one other is chubby, and a secondary adult character uses a leg prosthesis.

A knight’s tale in shining armor . (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-93108-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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