A quirky romp but also a niche one.

THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS

Princess Robin isn’t supposed to have adventures, but that doesn’t stop her in this French import.

Excited for the Aquatic Carnival, happy-go-lucky Princess Robin slips out of the castle without any adults catching her. Taking a shortcut through the woods, she comes across four brothers who, à la “Hansel and Gretel,” are terrified after having been dropped off in the woods by their father. Robin is determined to help them, and as adventures featuring a mermaid, pirates, kidnapping, and a candy house ensue, the quintet becomes fast friends. Adventures are broken down into three chapters (the book was originally published in three separate volumes), and each one includes a map and at least one interactive activity. “Dear reader,” prompts one, “please help our friends make the right choice! Which vine reaches all the way to the ground?” At least one, a connect-the-dots drawing, actively encourages children to put writing implement to book. The style and substance are less like Jeremy Whitley’s comic-book series Princeless or Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess and more as though Yellow Submarine and Luke Pearson’s Hilda had an extremely European baby. The scribbly crayon-and-ink illustrations have a bright, bold color palette and often take advantage of the diminutive size of Robin and her friends (all white-presenting) in their use of scale. Robin is one of only a few girl characters.

A quirky romp but also a niche one. (Graphic fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12416-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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Hooray, hooray for this par-tay.

FOX & RABBIT CELEBRATE

From the Fox & Rabbit series , Vol. 3

Five more stories featuring buddy pair Fox and Rabbit.

Following the formula of its predecessors, this third installment of the Fox & Rabbit series focuses on Sparrow’s “super-trooper special” birthday. A slightly unrelated opening story introduces a variety of animal characters as Fox—proudly adopting the moniker “Fix-it Fox”—goes around trying to solve everyone’s “enormous problems.” In the next story, Fox and Rabbit scheme to make the “biggest, roundest, yummiest pizza in the world.” They pilfer ingredients from Sparrow’s garden (a nod to the first book) and ask Mouse for mozzarella. Subsequent stories—each contained in a chapter—involve a pizza-cooking dragon, the “really awesome” party, and a birthday wish that finally comes true. Dudás’ full-color cartoon illustrations complement Ferry’s chipper tone and punny dialogue for an upbeat woodland romp. Even the turtle, who always comically arrives at the end of the chapter and misses most of the action, gets to enjoy the party. Another standout scene, in which Fox assumes Dragon doesn’t speak their language and speaks “Dragonian” unprompted, gently addresses microaggressions. Though all dialogue is clearly linked to each speaker, some scenes with lots of back and forth within a single panel gear this to comics readers with a bit of experience. Still, the eight-panel–per-page max and short chapters keep the text accessible and pace quick.

Hooray, hooray for this par-tay. (Graphic early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5183-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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