Seeing a mysterious white sphere fly past and land in “Fair-a-Way,” Archie the ant sets out to take a closer look. No sooner...

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ARCHIE AND THE MYSTERIOUS SPHERE

From the Antletics series , Vol. 1

Ant rides golf ball in this forgettable Belgian import.

Seeing a mysterious white sphere fly past and land in “Fair-a-Way,” Archie the ant sets out to take a closer look. No sooner does he climb atop the sphere than along comes a “Big Foot” to whack it into the air. Small automatic animations join a scattering of touch-activated sound effects or color changes in each cartoon scene. Touching highlighted words in the text opens small windows that offer either definitions or random cultural factoids—a mention of Archie’s “four hands” brings up a note about the Fab Four, for instance, and for “moonstone” a reference to Neil Armstrong. The narrator’s British-accented voice can be paused or turned off. Labored verses (“Was this a meteor or a falling star / Or perhaps a spaceship not yet ajar…”) are paired with extreme close-up views of a buggy, anxious-looking four-armed lad in shorts and T-shirt. This episode, being only the first of a planned eight, cuts off abruptly after only 11 screens, leaving Archie in mid-air. It’s unclear either when subsequent episodes will be available, or whether they will be sold separately or offered as free updates.

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2010

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Alfabetweter

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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 fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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