Over-the-top goofiness guarantees abundant giggles.


From the Banana Fox series

A ditzy detective must stop a more-silly-than-sinister society.

Banana Fox, the world-renowned lemon-hued vulpine detective, now works at the Smoothie Shack making his favorite smoothies (banana, natch). One day, a girl Banana Fox nicknames Flashlight (for the cherry-red one she carries) convinces him to once again take up sleuthing. The two meet William, who happens to be the vice president of the Banana Fox Fan Club but more importantly is missing his beloved turtle, Tur-Tur. William loves to drink Super Sour Soda, which tips off Flashlight that the nefarious villains Sour Grapes Jr. (a green fox) and the Sour Apple Gang (you guessed it: green apples) may have infiltrated William’s club. As Flashlight tries to convince the oblivious Banana Fox of the mounting sour clues, Sour Grapes Jr.’s comically dastardly jiggery-pokery is revealed through rampantly zany escapades including flushing toilets, giant turtles, and banana bikes. Kochalka’s graphic series opener positively vibrates off the page with its large illustrations colored in an eye-popping spectrum of pinks, greens, and yellows coupled with ballooning visual gags. If this sounds like a lot of whimsical nonsense bordering on a fever dream, it is. However, those familiar with Kochalka’s trademark tomfoolery should certainly be at home here, where silliness eclipses plot. Flashlight and William are both human; she has brown skin and puffy orange hair, and he presents White.

Over-the-top goofiness guarantees abundant giggles. (Graphic humor. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-66049-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

What a wag.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

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

Did you like this book?