Cop-dog comic YA novel-fantasy doesn’t lead the pack but still may collar a following among adolescent readers.

READ REVIEW

A NEW LEASH ON LIFE

Tough Seattle cop Lt. Spencer Watley, killed in the line of duty, is reincarnated in the body of his former police dog to redeem himself not only by nabbing the cyber-crooks responsible, but also by helping a troubled teenager face physical and emotional challenges.

This clash of genres hearkens back in many ways to Disney live-action feature comedies (and the books that inspired them) from the 1950s to the 70s. A childish retro-spirit prevails despite the modern—yet still somewhat dated—milieu of a cyberpunk-esque Seattle populated with lethal computer-hacker gangs and software/hardware pirates. Justin Andrews is a tech-savvy teenage rebel, alienated from his workaholic father, frequently in trouble at Catholic school and lonely after the death of his mother. Lt. Spencer Watley is a tough cop on the scent of a grotesque criminal dynasty named Dreck; Cruella De Vil-style Drusilla Dreck runs a robotics-oriented toy company but really schemes a vast identity-theft heist using a hot new cybernetic plaything named Robo Pooch that has been secretly upgraded with a snoopy spy chip. Watley is killed during a police pursuit—an accident that also puts bystander Justin in leg braces. But an angel in heaven grants Spencer a second chance in God’s “Jerk Redemption Program,” bringing the lawman back to Earth in the body of a purebred briard police dog (that has swallowed the Drecks’ precious spy chip) so that he can befriend Justin and battle the villains. The latter antics are so slapsticky that one expects chirpy birds and twinkling stars around the heads of the detestable Drecks and their henchmen after each gets conked in the many fight scenes. The narrative also overplays its “dead parent” hand, with fully three deceased moms and dads (and that’s just the human ones) causing lingering trauma to their bereaved offspring. Still, there are some intriguing third-act twists, and it’s possible that tween readers who find the more realistic Puppy Place and Pet Vets series too sedate will be amused by the rambunctious spirit and lively pacing. Readers and pet owners of any age should know that dog-Spencer’s habit of drinking coffee is not a canine treat recommended by veterinarians.

Cop-dog comic YA novel-fantasy doesn’t lead the pack but still may collar a following among adolescent readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 227

Publisher: Book Baby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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