This story neatly celebrates the everyday life experiences of a diverse family and the magic of togetherness in the face of...

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MASTERPIECE ROBOT

AND THE FEROCIOUS VALERIE KNICK KNACK!

Comic-book action, an innocent backyard, and four siblings with wild imaginations combine to create an adventurous afternoon.

A girl of mixed Asian/white descent named Laura heads out into the front yard with her little sister, Molly, to help rake leaves. But Laura has a secret identity—Masterpiece Robot—and so do her siblings. To them, the outside world offers exciting perils and the potential for adventure. Each vivid, dynamically illustrated spread splits into comic-book panels that alternate between brightly colored reality and a somber comic-book world in which Masterpiece Robot and Sidekick (Molly) battle the Ferocious Valerie Knick-Knack, an older sister, with the help of their brother, Lord MekMek. The children crash and smash through piles of leaves in a sci-fi battle with spaceships, blasters, and robot parts as our heroes try to save the world. Humorous text, split between dialogue and narrative in a manner typical of comic books, asks, “Will the world as we know it become forever shrouded in despair, misery, early bedtimes, and extra servings of vegetables?” Family, imagination, and the endless possibilities of outdoor play intersect at the core of this lively, memorable story, written by a Vietnamese-American graphic novelist.

This story neatly celebrates the everyday life experiences of a diverse family and the magic of togetherness in the face of all kinds of adventure . (Graphic fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-518-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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