Colossal’s debut outing is a cheerful if unexceptional popcorn read.

RUTABAGA THE ADVENTURE CHEF

From the Rutabaga the Adventure Chief series , Vol. 1

In a land with dragons and other monsters, a happy-go-lucky chef can also be a hero.

Rutabaga is a chef on a journey to find the rarest, tastiest ingredients to use in his cooking. He’s a foodie Indiana Jones for the junior set: When he finds a legendary sword, he wants only the mushrooms growing on it, happily surrendering the sword itself to the next person who arrives. Though Rutabaga isn’t a warrior or wizard, his culinary expertise often comes in handy; for example, he’s able to deduce what food might nourish an ailing royal pet. Colossal’s full-color, cartoonish illustrations, with their heavy linework and simple figures, match the light, goofy tone of the stories. When Rutabaga gets cooking, Colossal exploits the graphic form to break down the action into numbered steps reminiscent of real cookbooks. The slapstick humor entertains but leaves little space for genuine character development, and the characters’ determinedly colloquial speech highlights the flimsiness of the faux medieval setting. Recipes scattered throughout allow kids to test their own cooking skills, at least on the ones with real-world ingredients. (Taste testers should be warned that one recipe features crushed cinnamon breath mints as an ingredient.)

Colossal’s debut outing is a cheerful if unexceptional popcorn read. (Graphic adventure. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1380-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise.

BAD KITTY GOES ON VACATION

From the Bad Kitty (chapter book) series

A trip to the Love Love Angel Kitty World theme park (“The Most Super Incredibly Happy Place on Earth!”) turns out to be an exercise in lowered expectations…to say the least.

When Uncle Murray wins a pair of free passes it seems at first like a dream come true—at least for Kitty, whose collection of Love Love Kitty merch ranges from branded underwear to a pink chainsaw. But the whole trip turns into a series of crises beginning with the (as it turns out) insuperable challenge of getting a cat onto an airplane, followed by the twin discoveries that the hotel room doesn’t come with a litter box and that the park doesn’t allow cats. Even kindhearted Uncle Murray finds his patience, not to say sanity, tested by extreme sticker shock in the park’s gift shop and repeated exposures to Kitty World’s literally nauseating theme song (notation included). He is not happy. Fortunately, the whole cloying enterprise being a fiendish plot to make people so sick of cats that they’ll pick poultry as favorite pets instead, the revelation of Kitty’s feline identity puts the all-chicken staff to flight and leaves the financial coffers plucked. Uncle Murray’s White, dumpy, middle-aged figure is virtually the only human one among an otherwise all-animal cast in Bruel’s big, rapidly sequenced, and properly comical cartoon panels.

This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise. (Graphic satire. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20808-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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