A thoughtfully designed storybook adds another helpful tool to the box for readers who need support.

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FRANK AND THE SKUNK

From the Meg and Greg series , Vol. 2

Meg and Greg’s summer-camp exploits lend themselves to fun phonics stories for emerging readers.

Buddies Meg and Greg are spending two weeks at sleepaway camp. Each of the four segments in the book details a different camp misadventure and heavily features the phonogram du jour: nk, ng, tch, or dge. This is the second book in a series designed for children just learning to read or readers who are struggling due to dyslexia or other learning difficulties. The format of each chapter features stories related in prose on the left-hand side of the double-page spread and comics-style panels, with illustration labels, cartoons, and speech bubbles, on the right. Extension activities at the end of each segment offer further opportunities for practice. Meg, Greg, and the other campers get mixed up in pranks, humorous surprises, and even a disastrous canoe trip, which will work to hold older readers’ attention without feeling too predictable. The story in some sections suffers under the burden of including as many phonograms as possible: When Meg and Greg must devise a skit for a contest using words that end with “ng,” they perform “The King’s Long Fangs.” Dyslexia-friendly features are integrated into the book, and strategies for using the text features are clearly explained. Meg and Greg present white; there is some diversity among secondary characters indicated in the illustrations.

A thoughtfully designed storybook adds another helpful tool to the box for readers who need support. (glossary, tips) (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2493-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

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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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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