Toos and the Zombies

Belciglio and Anderson are back with a new zombie-fighting adventure for Toos (Toos Goes Uptown, 2012).
The rare—and therefore lucky—male calico’s human family, John and Kyle, take him from their home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to Chicago with talk of fighting zombies. Chicago native Anderson’s renderings of the Charlotte airport and Chicago cityscape capture the essence of these settings from the cat’s point of view. The chatty text, though overly wordy for a picture book, conveys the feline narrator’s personality and mood. Looking out their hotel window, for instance, Toos comes eye to eye with, not zombies, but pigeons and rambles, “I glared at them….They just sat there! HUH?!?...Charlotte birds would have been scared of me, and flown off. Maybe these pigeons were used to scary zombies and I’m not scary enough!” Anderson’s illustrations, especially the one of Toos having a staring contest with three green-headed pigeons against a backdrop of Chicago skyscrapers, will entrance kids. After psyching himself up to be a scary Zombie-Fighting-Ninja-Cat, Toos is upset to be left in a carrier while John and Kyle go off to fight zombies. He escapes from his cage and comes face to face with a green-faced girl zombie—and runs outside in terror. Young readers will identify with his disappointment in himself: “Zombie-Fighting-Ninja-Cat? Really? More like I was a Scaredy Cat!” But when Toos sees John and Kyle running toward a giant, shiny bean (readers in the know will recognize this iconic sculpture in Millennium Park) with a horde of zombies behind them, he attacks them all, sending them running and yelling. Then he realizes John and Kyle are also yelling—for him to stop—and Chris, the director, yells, “Cut!” Instead of thinking Toos had ruined the movie, though, the director exclaims how real the cat’s attack made it look. The movie wins an award and Toos sums up, “Cool, huh? I’m a movie star. Told you I was lucky!”
Young zombie-crazed readers who discover this happy pairing of dramatic narrative and engaging illustrations will consider themselves lucky as well.

Pub Date: May 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494932787

Page Count: 34

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2014

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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