Raucous fun at the sound of midnight.

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LIVI & NATE

A WINTER'S NIGHT

From the Livi & Nate series

Nighttime dreams ward off the pull of deep sleep in Hakkola and Ahokoivu’s jubilant graphic novel.

Amid the thick snow, Livi and Nate play, sled, toss snowballs, and tease. Grandpa struggles to continue shoveling, so Mom calls everyone in from the cold. After a bit of tidying up, some hot cocoa, and a bath, it’s time for bed. Noises from outside frighten Livi, who wakes up an annoyed Nate. Could it be the snow animals they made earlier? Mom reassures them that everything will be OK (cue Livi: “Make sure you check!”), and Livi falls asleep and dreams of a tea party. Oh no! A snow bear named Teddy interrupts the tea and cakes, asking for Livi and Nate’s help! Using some quick wits and a very long scarf, Livi saves Daphne the dragon from incoming spring. The dream rolls happily along until a “BLING” wakes Livi up. What could it be this time? The ensuing narrative follows a similar pattern: sleep, dream, noise, and investigation. The Finnish creators’ words convey a certain degree of playfulness that cements the bond between Livi and Nate above everything else. Similarly, their artwork—saturated with sheets of colors, arranged in spreads of sequential actions with occasionally dissonant frames—exemplifies the pale-skinned pair’s nervy energy, even if readers may get lost among the hijinks at times.

Raucous fun at the sound of midnight. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-372-9

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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