Undeniably whimsical and extremely cute.

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THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY

In this tale based on the imaginative webcomic, a young blacksmith finds herself welcomed into a society that cares for tea-leaf–producing minidragons.

With perky black pigtails, pink horns, and brown skin, Greta is training to be a blacksmith like her mother (who has large pink horns, brown skin, a nose ring, and impressive musculature). In their world, blacksmithing is dwindling in importance, although Greta’s mom strives to preserve the art. One day, Greta happens across a darling, small green dragon. She learns the dragon belongs to a dignified-looking bespectacled llamalike creature named Hesekiel. Hesekiel, his wheelchair-using partner, Erik, and the enigmatic, hooved-and-antlered, cotton-candy–tressed Minette make up what is left of the Tea Dragon Society, a group that forms close bonds with the dragons and harvests the tea leaves the creatures grow. The relationship between dragon and owner, much like tea harvesting, is one that requires patience and an appreciation for craftsmanship; that general feeling is apparent as O’Neill’s gentle offering languidly unfurls without much dramatic tension. As she did in Princess Princess Ever After (2016), O’Neill has composed a feel-good tale just right for middle-grade fantasy fans. In alluringly hued, manga-inspired illustrations, O’Neill’s diverse characters distray an array of different skin colors, orientations, and abilities. Helping to add depth to the worldbuilding is an excerpt from a fictional tome that explains the history of tea dragons and their individual characteristics.

Undeniably whimsical and extremely cute. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62010-441-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

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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