Like Godot, this book is both comic and perplexing. Readers with an absurdist sensibility will appreciate the slow pacing....

APOCALYPSE BOW WOW

It would be wrong to say that this book is Waiting for Godot with dogs, despite superficial similarities.

This graphic novel isn’t much like Samuel Beckett’s play, although it is arranged in scenes. The main problem in Godot is existential angst. The main problem in this comic is doorknobs. Dogs can’t open doors, so they have to wait for their owners to bring them food, and the wait is endless, because every human in the world seems to have disappeared after an unnamed disaster. There are lengthy, circular conversations about food: “I’m hungry.” “Aren’t you always hungry?” The comic book has more fight scenes than Godot, which means there are multiple appearances by the book’s funniest character, a flea who’s read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. He’s always ready to give the dogs cryptic advice: “The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” Unfortunately, whenever he leaves the story, the dialogue turns mundane. Here’s Scene 3 in its entirety: “How come you get to lie on the couch?” Some readers will find the banality hilarious. No other post-apocalyptic novel has this many conversations about furniture. And the black-and-white artwork is endearingly primitive. The dogs are shaped like little sausages or maybe heretofore-undiscovered continents.

Like Godot, this book is both comic and perplexing. Readers with an absurdist sensibility will appreciate the slow pacing. Other children may get tired of waiting. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-442-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.

A WOLF CALLED WANDER

Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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