CAPE

From the The League of Secret Heroes series , Vol. 1

Puzzles readers can solve are the icing on this cake.

Superheroes, spies, puzzle solvers—or all three?

It’s World War II, and Zenobia, Black Cat, and the other superheroes vanished from the streets of Philadelphia a couple of years ago. Josie, a white Irish immigrant, is despairing, with a war on and her beloved heroes all missing. At least Josie can do her part for the war effort, since a call has gone out for puzzle-solving and mathematically inclined kids. Just when it looks like Josie won’t be able to help—are her excellent ciphering skills going to be ignored just because she’s a girl?—a mysterious woman solicits the help of Josie and two other puzzler girls: Akiko, a Japanese-American girl whose family is in an internment camp, and Mae, a black girl whose grandmother is a librarian, both also cipher- and comics-loving superhero fans. And somehow, when the three of them get together, they have powers! Like the heroes of their favorite comics, the girls whoosh through the skies, caped rescuers fighting Nazis. Along the way they meet and rescue the women who are the first computer programmers. Mae and Akiko encounter a smidgen of racism, although far, far milder than accuracy would call for; this is a superhero/puzzling/Nazi-thwarting tale, not historical fiction. With interwoven action sequences told in comics panels, the tale has the exciting pace of a superhero adventure.

Puzzles readers can solve are the icing on this cake. (historical note, further resources) (Historical fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3911-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

KATT VS. DOGG

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme.

An age-old rivalry is reluctantly put aside when two young vacationers are lost in the wilderness.

Anthropomorphic—in body if definitely not behavior—Dogg Scout Oscar and pampered Molly Hissleton stray from their separate camps, meet by chance in a trackless magic forest, and almost immediately recognize that their only chance of survival, distasteful as the notion may be, lies in calling a truce. Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit, interspersing explicit exchanges on the topic while casting the squabbling pair with complementary abilities that come out as they face challenges ranging from finding food to escaping such predators as a mountain lion and a pack of vicious “weaselboars.” By the time they cross a wide river (on a raft steered by “Old Jim,” an otter whose homespun utterances are generally cribbed from Mark Twain—an uneasy reference) back to civilization, the two are BFFs. But can that friendship survive the return, with all the social and familial pressures to resume the old enmity? A climactic cage-match–style confrontation before a worked-up multispecies audience provides the answer. In the illustrations (not seen in finished form) López plops wide-eyed animal heads atop clothed, more or less human forms and adds dialogue balloons for punchlines.

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41156-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

KNIGHTS VS. DINOSAURS

Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits.

Who needs dragons when there are Terrible Lizards to be fought?

Having recklessly boasted to King Arthur and the court that he’d slain 40 dragons, Sir Erec can hardly refuse when Merlin offers him more challenging foes…and so it is that in no time (so to speak), Erec, with bookish Sir Hector, the silent and enigmatic Black Knight, and blustering Sir Bors with his thin but doughty squire, Mel, in tow, are hewing away at fearsome creatures sporting natural armor and weapons every bit as effective as knightly ones. Happily, while all the glorious mashing and bashing leads to awesome feats aplenty—who would suspect that a ravening T. Rex could be decked by a well-placed punch to the jaw?—when the dust settles neither bloodshed nor permanent injury has been dealt to either side. Better yet, not even the stunning revelation that two of the Three Stooges–style bumblers aren’t what they seem (“Anyone else here a girl?”) keeps the questers from developing into a well-knit team capable of repeatedly saving one another’s bacon. Phelan endows the all-white human cast with finely drawn, eloquently expressive faces but otherwise works in a loose, movement-filled style, pitting his clanking crew against an almost nonstop onslaught of toothy monsters in a monochrome mix of single scenes and occasional wordless sequential panels.

Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-268623-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Close Quickview