MASK

From the The League of Secret Heroes series , Vol. 2

A winning blend of comedy, superheroics, inspirational women from history, and puzzle-solving.

The puzzle-solving kid superheroes from Cape (2019) team up with real-life World War II heroines.

Josie and her friends Mae and Akiko have secret identities: the Emerald Shield, the Violet Vortex, and the Orange Inferno. The three comics-loving girls now have superpowers and a superhero mentor, but the war is still endangering them all. Now Akiko’s mom has gone missing from the Manzanar internment camp, but they don’t have time to focus on that. San Francisco’s being attacked by Side-Splitter and his army of evil clown clones. Pitch-perfect action scenes right out of golden-age comics—“Curses on you, Infinite Irritants!” wails Side-Splitter, as his red-nosed, floppy-shoed clowns attack—are complemented by sequences illustrated in comics-panel form. As white, Irish American Josie, African American Mae, and Japanese American Akiko receive help from some of the war’s real-life female cryptographers and spies, they solve numerous puzzles, including Morse code, acrostics, and a cryptic message that reads “∞ ∆ |^^| ≈ |º|.” Most of the puzzles are presented with enough information to be cracked by interested readers, as well. Historical racism and segregation are absent except for the internment camps, but the contrast between the injustice of the internment camps and the patriotic sacrifice of the deported internees is front and center.

A winning blend of comedy, superheroics, inspirational women from history, and puzzle-solving. (historical note) (Historical fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3914-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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

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