This series opener is a romp in the park.

READ REVIEW

DOG DIARIES

A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY

From the Dog Diaries series , Vol. 1

Junior is a dog of great enthusiasm.

Recently adopted from the animal shelter by Mom-Lady, he’s the happy owner of a pet human boy he calls Ruff. Ruff is a good human. He lets Junior sleep on his bed, takes him for walks to the dog park (neighborhood map included), and seems unperturbed by Junior’s ever-so-doggy ways. Unfortunately, Junior accidentally gets away at the dog park and causes all sorts of amusing pandemonium, very annoying to nasty professional dog trainer Iona Stricker. She presents Ruff with an ultimatum: either train his unruly dog (in her class), or she will have Junior returned to the shelter. Junior—once he learns what’s needed—is happy to comply, until his enthusiasm gets the better of him once again. Related in Junior’s endearingly canine first-dog voice, the tale is a quick one, accompanied by Watson’s numerous cartoon illustrations that perfectly capture Junior’s whimsical attitude. A healthy serving of mild bathroom humor should appeal to the intended audience. After all, who doesn’t like to hear of a dog using Ruff’s sister’s shoes for a latrine? The few human characters all appear to be the white default. The broad humor and fast pace will likely entice many a reader turned off by longer, more deliberative tales. Activities and a “Doglish” glossary are included.

This series opener is a romp in the park. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48748-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good.

THE BAD GUYS IN MISSION UNPLUCKABLE

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 2

The foursome of reformed villains returns with a new mission and new team member in a continued effort to repair their reputations in Blabey's (The Bad Guys, 2017) rollicking sequel.

This second installment opens with our would-be heroes, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Mr. Piranha, fresh from their bold liberation of the local pound, finding that the media is not spinning in their favor. Accused of terrorizing rather than rescuing, the group (at least Mr. Wolf) refuses to admit defeat—"We're the GOOD GUYS here!"—and begins planning a new mission to free innocent chickens from their deplorable confinement in the Sunnyside Chicken Farm. But if the team can't work together—something all the more difficult with the team a little panicked by the addition of Legs (a friendly, tech-genius tarantula) and one of the group suspiciously excited to greet the chickens—a rescue mission may be all but impossible. Despite some language devaluing of mental diversity (“freak out,” “loco,” etc.) that may turn some readers off, Blabey once again deploys moral ambiguity to overall success, challenging fear as a justification for prejudice and mistakes as reasons to give up. The narrative has lost no comic momentum from first to second book, juxtaposing classic riffs on Mission Impossible and new visual gags unique to these delightfully wry characters.

Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91241-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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