Ludicrously juvenile, just the way its audience likes it.

AWESOME DOG 5000

From the Awesome Dog 5000 series , Vol. 1

A boy and his friends—including a robot dog—face off against the villainous Dr. Crazybrains.

New kid Marty Fontana wants to avoid the dreaded dork label at his new school—so naturally, everything goes wrong in comedically humiliating ways. But standard dork-versus-cool tropes (such as lunch-table–codified social hierarchy) are freshened by amplifying the silliness to new heights (archetypal cool kid Shades sleeps wearing sunglasses to “look cool in his dreams”). The Zeroes Marty ends up befriending are genuinely nice: upbeat, friendly, fact-loving Ralph Rogers and proud-to-be-different daredevil Skyler Kwon. Even better, they like Marty’s favorite video game, Sheriff Turbo-Karate, and they all find virtual success via team-up. Celebrating, they discover Awesome Dog 5000, a robot left behind by a mysteriously vanished scientist. When Awesome Dog and Marty accidentally wreck Dr. Crazybrains’ birthday party, the pernicious potion-maker (so evil he dubs his butler Mr. Poopsie) vows vengeance. Said vengeance has a few hiccups, but once he captures Marty it’s up to the Zeroes and Awesome Dog 5000 to save him. The final battle is cartoonishly ridiculous. The binary moral (coolness is bad/dorkiness is good) is expected, so it’s good the jokes are so far out there. All characters appear light-skinned in the black-and-white illustrations; Skyler is coded Asian. The cartoon art (with a surprise at the end) emphasizes the cockamamie, fart-joke–heavy humor.

Ludicrously juvenile, just the way its audience likes it. (Science fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64481-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good.

THE BAD GUYS IN MISSION UNPLUCKABLE

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 2

The foursome of reformed villains returns with a new mission and new team member in a continued effort to repair their reputations in Blabey's (The Bad Guys, 2017) rollicking sequel.

This second installment opens with our would-be heroes, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Mr. Piranha, fresh from their bold liberation of the local pound, finding that the media is not spinning in their favor. Accused of terrorizing rather than rescuing, the group (at least Mr. Wolf) refuses to admit defeat—"We're the GOOD GUYS here!"—and begins planning a new mission to free innocent chickens from their deplorable confinement in the Sunnyside Chicken Farm. But if the team can't work together—something all the more difficult with the team a little panicked by the addition of Legs (a friendly, tech-genius tarantula) and one of the group suspiciously excited to greet the chickens—a rescue mission may be all but impossible. Despite some language devaluing of mental diversity (“freak out,” “loco,” etc.) that may turn some readers off, Blabey once again deploys moral ambiguity to overall success, challenging fear as a justification for prejudice and mistakes as reasons to give up. The narrative has lost no comic momentum from first to second book, juxtaposing classic riffs on Mission Impossible and new visual gags unique to these delightfully wry characters.

Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91241-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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