Ape and Armadillo might not have conquered the world in this outing, but they should win plenty of fans who will want to...



From the Ape & Armadillo series , Vol. 1

An unlikely pair of pals engages in creative plans that exercise their imaginations and test their friendship.

Armadillo is a feisty fellow with big ideas and a big ego. His best friend, Ape, is huge in stature and more thoughtful and compassionate than his smaller friend. Their story is told in graphic-novel format, with the main plot unfolding in comic-strip panels on the top three-quarters of the pages, complemented by a secondary, episodic story running along the bottoms of the pages. The secondary story is inventive and humorous, giving insight into both characters and setting up their imaginative flights of fancy. The main story begins when Ape refuses to play along with the duo’s previously conceived “evil plan” to capture a castle and take over the world. This plan has Ape doing all the dirty work and Armadillo serving as king. When Ape withdraws from the fantasy and goes off to sit in a tree, Armadillo must think up a new fantasy plot with some accommodations for Ape’s wishes. The pair interacts with humans in several scenes, with the cast of characters including different ages and ethnicities. The cartoon illustrations include lots of motion and emotion as well, with Ape’s kinder nature shining through and Armadillo’s learning curve as a friend emerging in a subtle and satisfying way. The text perfectly captures the wildly creative narrative spirit in the play of imaginative children, who are not bound by logical rules and physical limitations.

Ape and Armadillo might not have conquered the world in this outing, but they should win plenty of fans who will want to read more about this dynamic duo. (Graphic early reader. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943145-09-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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

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