A solidly funny book that knows its audience.

AWESOME DOG 5000 VS. THE KITTY-CAT CYBER SQUAD

From the Awesome Dog 5000 series , Vol. 3

Marty, Ralph, Skyler, and Awesome Dog 5000 go public as superheroes in this third outing.

After the public battle against the former mayor, Townville plans an award ceremony for Awesome Dog. The human heroes (White-appearing Marty and Ralph and Korean-coded Skyler) decide to don superhero costumes and identities in order to attend. They become, respectively, Super Awesome, Professor I.Q., and Purple Lightning. The superhero frenzy draws the attention of obsessive fangirl Tina Tinkerwith, who reads as Black. Upon losing her job as a toy inventor, Tina is tricked into villainy as a way to get closer to her idols. The comic-book–genre savvy is combined with fourth wall–breaking humor (such as an introductory guide giving page numbers for recaps based on readers’ needs and a gag inviting readers into a staring contest with a drawing of a snail) and, of course, fart jokes. Fact-spouting Ralph is the emotional focus of this one—his more conventional friends take to heroics more easily, and he struggles to feel like he belongs. This storyline is more successful than previous ones because it includes his difficulties outside of the heroic arena. That said, plenty of page space (and silly illustrations) is devoted to the escalating battles against Tina’s alter ego, Lady Catastrophe (“emphasis on the C-A-T,” reflecting her robotic feline criminal army). A puzzle at the end provides breadcrumbs for the next sequel.

A solidly funny book that knows its audience. (Science fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17282-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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