Not much more than a vehicle created to spotlight middle school versions of DC Comics heroes and baddies, but fans, at...

STUDY HALL OF JUSTICE

From the DC Comics Secret Hero Society series , Vol. 1

Young students with oddly familiar names team up to investigate the nefarious agenda of their school’s administration in this batty series opener.

In fact, hardly has Bruce Wayne hung a couple of bats in his new locker at Gotham City’s exclusive Ducard Academy than glimpses of lurking ninjas, an encounter with cream-pie–bearing bully Joe Kerr, and other signs raise his suspicion that something’s not right. With plenty of help from exchange student Diana Prince and hayseed classmate Clark Kent, he does indeed expose a scheme to recruit young villains—explained in detail by principal Ra’s Al Ghul—before he escapes in the wake of a climactic ninja battle. Along the way Bruce and company try out for extracurricular activities (“Boys’ sports: All pain, some gain! To sign up, see Coach Zod”), attend classes taught by the likes of Alice in Wonderland–obsessed Jervis Tetch, and adopt distinctive Halloween costumes for the climactic dust-up. Spun out in a mix of journal entries, chat transcripts, screenshots, and panels of comic art as loose as the plotline, the tale hurtles its inconclusive way to a close that leaves Bruce looking forward to the bats, shadows, and mysteries of summer camp. Stay tuned.

Not much more than a vehicle created to spotlight middle school versions of DC Comics heroes and baddies, but fans, at least, will enjoy catching the references. (Graphic fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-82501-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.

SCAREDY CAT

Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A quick pull on a reliable, if not exactly minty-fresh, formula.

DEMON DENTIST

Walliams drills into a primal fear with this tale of a new dentist with a decidedly evil agenda.

In a blatant grab at Roald Dahl fans, the author pulls out a cast of cheeky children, thoroughly rotten villains, and clueless but well-meaning grown-ups for a Brit-flavored romp that combines moments of intense terror and bracing courage with biting satire—oh, and gruesome bits. Ross offers a plethora of loosely sketched ink-and-wash vignettes generally indistinguishable from Quentin Blake’s. All over town, children have been putting lost teeth beneath their pillows and, instead of money, getting cat poo, oozing scabs, and like rewards. Worse yet, following shocked comments about the state of 12-year-old Alfie’s “teet,” canny Winnie, a flamboyant new West Indian social worker, tricks the lad into visiting the newly arrived (with her cat, Fang) dentist, Miss Root. Alfie regains consciousness with nary a tooth in his mouth—it seems that Miss Root is the Tooth Witch herself. She’s not to be stopped, either, without help from new, dreadlocked friend (not girlfriend) Gabz, a vat of acid with revolting ingredients (carefully listed), and lots of dynamite. Walliams spritzes the narrative with made-up but not particularly inventive words and large-type screaming. Winnie, dark-skinned Gabz (short for Gabriella), and newsagent Raj are the only notable nonwhite characters; Winnie’s accent is an unfortunate running joke.

A quick pull on a reliable, if not exactly minty-fresh, formula. (pictorial cast list) (Horror. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241704-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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