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THE ADVENTURES OF INVISIBLE BOY

A fun-filled adventure that celebrates the true superpowers of the middle-grade imagination: chaos and creativity.

Two dramatically different boys acquire the power of invisibility, with raucous results.

Stanley is anxious about starting a new school—it’s the middle of the year, and everyone else already knows each other. He’s also poorly prepared for the Science Fair, for which he creates a wonky robot cobbled together from recyclable materials. Gene, an aspiring scientist with a collection of crackpot inventions, has a far more ambitious entry: a powerful stain remover. Both Stanley and Gene become drenched in the mixture and are rendered invisible. Stanley, in stealth mode, explores his new town and enjoys relief from social pressures. Meanwhile, Gene, incensed that Stanley’s robot has won first prize, takes revenge, secretly wreaking havoc by vandalizing bikes and destroying Stanley’s treehouse. Though Stanley’s search for justice and an invisibility antidote drives the plot, the book’s buzzy energy relies on Gene’s zany creations. The conflict between aspiring hero and eager villain reaches its apex in Gene’s basement laboratory, where the two battle each other using Gene’s collection of contraptions in a broadly comical, captivating denouement. In the wake of this destruction, the boys’ final reconciliation opens the door for more creative adventures. Action-packed artwork feels reminiscent of comic strips or animated shows; Stanley recalls a particularly earnest Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes), while Gene is reminiscent of the titular character on Dexter’s Lab. Both Stanley and Gene are white.

A fun-filled adventure that celebrates the true superpowers of the middle-grade imagination: chaos and creativity. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9780593532645

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

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Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamiltonand Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What a wag.

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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 Mancomics 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: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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