The sheer looniness of the premise combines with potty humor for a fairly specialized audience; readers looking for a...

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THE BIG ADVENTURES OF MR. SMALL

Can eyeballs be characters if they don’t have a face to sit in? If you add stick arms and legs, they can. When they link up with a “teeny tiny hamster” who’s in search of a big adventure, the result is a goofy plot.

In a series of sequential, paneled compositions, the two eyeballs (no names) detach themselves from a cactus and string along with hamster Mr. Small as he leaves the safety of his home, where something yummy to eat is never far away: a peanut, morsels of cheese, sunflower seeds, even “lots of poop (only to be eaten in an emergency!).” But there is no adventure! At dark, hamster and eyeballs set off, but the first obstacle is the living room rug, which looks like “a thick, furry maze” to the diminutive rodent. (Adinolfi superimposes a maze for readers to “move” him through over the fibers.) Once through, he scrambles toward the kitchen and under the refrigerator, where it’s dark and dangerous. There, he encounters a dust bunny and befriends it. The text is a mix of word bubbles and narrative. The panels abut one another without traditional borders, and they teem with activity; this makes it confusing for readers to follow the story thread.

The sheer looniness of the premise combines with potty humor for a fairly specialized audience; readers looking for a traditional friendship book may find themselves averting their eyes. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-939547-26-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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What a wag.

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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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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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