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WHO IS THE BUCKS BANDIT?

From the Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw series , Vol. 3

Doesn’t come close to the bull’s-eye.

Could the new fifth grader be a thief?

In this third installment in the Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw series (loosely based on the Robin Hood mythos), green-hoodie–clad Robin Loxley decides that she will befriend Wilu Johnson, the new student at Nottingham Elementary, no matter what. Robin’s friends, the Merry Misfits, try to welcome him in, but he is standoffish and aloof, proclaiming he is a “solo kid.” At Nottingham, good behavior and grades are incentivized with Bonus Bucks; when Wilu’s arrival coincides with the mysterious disappearance of Bonus Bucks, he is immediately suspected as the perpetrator. Robin is sure he is innocent, but will she be able to prove it? Loveless’ newest installment follows its predecessors’ format, with short, bustling chapters punctuated with distinctive crayonlike full-color illustrations and comics panels. Despite the breezy pacing, Robin’s friendship journey with Wilu feels tedious and heavy-handed, lessons like “mean nicknames are a bad call” plopping into readers’ laps. In addition to the forced cheer and morality, series conventions, such as the rapping twins and Robin’s references to foods, feel contrived and formulaic instead of like comforting touchstones. Robin is White while the rest of the Merry Misfits are diverse. Wilu has brown skin, and the fact that suspicion immediately falls on him, a kid of color, is not interrogated.

Doesn’t come close to the bull’s-eye. (author's note) (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6089-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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