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

APE & ARMADILLO TAKE OVER THE WORLD

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

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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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DOG MAN

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

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