The space vistas are spectacular, if readers overlook the tedious postman in front of them.

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THE POSTMAN FROM SPACE

This graphic import from Québec is science fiction for anyone who finds Star Wars too invigorating.

In the early Star Wars movies, the backgrounds were usually more interesting than what was happening in the foreground, and this graphic novel borrows the same technique. As Bob the titular postman shuttles letters from one planet to another, he’s always passing something astonishing: a world shaped like an enormous dog bone or a post-office space station shaped like a mailbox. This irritates him, because Bob likes his postal route dull and routine. Any change gives him a stomachache. Fortunately, nothing that happens here is remotely exciting, though Bob is increasingly annoyed by these mundane postal glitches. He trips in the mud or gets chased by dogs. The main exception is a lengthy parody of The Little Prince, which will be funny only to those who recognize the source. The scenes in the background, however, are stunning, with impossible, Escher-style architecture and a mail cart that hovers just above the ground. (Bob, fittingly, is a bland shade of white, but other characters have green skin or puce beaks.) The drawings are so masterful that they become a sort of understated joke. The more marvels Bob sees, the more desperate he is to end this day of mishaps. But even Bob has to pause, a few pages from the end, and admire the sheer beauty of the world outside his window.

The space vistas are spectacular, if readers overlook the tedious postman in front of them. (Graphic science fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4519-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

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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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

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 Hamilton and 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 14, 2018

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