Droll dino fare for the lower reaches of the format’s audience.

FRIENDS DO NOT EAT FRIENDS

From the Thunder and Cluck series

Prehistoric prey and predator reach an accord in this graphic kickoff for fledgling readers.

Opening with a primer on graphic visual conventions and how to read panels in order, the tale introduces Thunder, a humongous theropod, and tiny, birdlike Cluck. From their first encounter, the latter, refusing to flee and seemingly undisturbed by all the roaring and tooth gnashing, launches a persistent campaign to winkle an admission of friendship from the former. In cartoon scenes of one to three big panels per page, Thunder’s indignant “That is not how this goes!” evolves in stages into a grumpy admission of defeat: “Something tells me hanging out with you will be…interesting.” If the vocabulary at times seems a bit advanced for the elemental art and plotline, it’s mostly spread out into easily digestible bits punctuated by wordless panels and more roaring. Many of Thompson’s panels are vertical, emphasizing the difference between burly, toothy orange-and-purple Thunder and scrawny Cluck, whom Thunder could easily swallow whole without noticing—but doesn’t. As unlikely friends go, this isn’t the weirdest pairing—trailing, for instance, William Steig’s Amos & Boris (1971) or Salina Yoon’s Penguin and Pinecone (2012)—but it’s extreme enough for even very young children to see the contrast as comical. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-12-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Droll dino fare for the lower reaches of the format’s audience. (Graphic early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8652-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.

HOW DO DINOSAURS SHOW GOOD MANNERS?

From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A welcome addition to shelves of graphic novels for new readers

PEACE AND QUIET

From the Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox series , Vol. 4

A blended family of badgers and foxes make the best of close quarters in this wintertime story.

Mr. Badger and his three kits, Bristle, Berry and Grub, along with Mrs. Fox and her pup, Ginger, are hunkering down for a long winter together in this early-reader book that makes great use of comic conventions. Panel illustrations show the family gathering materials to make their shared den nice and cozy, while also discussing their differing wintertime behaviors: The badgers don’t hibernate, but they do sleep an awful lot to preserve their energy, and they rely on fat reserves to stay warm throughout the season, while the foxes grow thick winter coats and plan to hunt in the snowy forest. At first, the little ones have a hard time understanding these differences, and a dose of cabin fever makes the living situation rather fraught. Happily, the parents step in to ease tensions and to help their children make the most of the season and of their relationships with one another. Speech balloons, endearing illustrations of the characters, well-paced panels and lots of action from scene to scene will keep young readers invested in this story, particularly if they are already familiar with the previous titles in the series.

A welcome addition to shelves of graphic novels for new readers . (Graphic animal fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8225-9163-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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