A fantastically fun cartoon romp.

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EVIL EMPEROR PENGUIN

In this graphic charmer, an evil penguin, his octopus sidekick, and a cuddly minion take on a diabolical feline.

Nestled in a remote hideaway in Antarctica, the red-caped, “spaghetti ring”–loving Evil Emperor Penguin works tirelessly on his plans for world domination. Aided by his monocled octopus sidekick, Number 8, and his adorably red-cheeked and fuzzy-enough-to-cuddle “top minion,” Eugene, he invents doomsday devices that never quite deliver. EEP soon meets his ultimate adversary, Evil Cat, a feline with a handlebar mustache, a tiny top hat, and a nefarious agenda. EEP, staying true to his evil persona, doesn’t treat Eugene kindly, and after a comic mishap, Eugene decides to serve Evil Cat. Will the Evil Penguin get his minion back from under Evil Cat’s claws? With its sprightly tone and unfaltering cheerfulness, Anderson’s graphic offering seamlessly moves from rainbows and unicorns to the occasional well-timed fart joke. Shown through a cinematic lens and possessing an animated sensibility, her animal cast will instantly captivate readers. Between the book’s look and its goofily offbeat sense of humor, it should be difficult for many young readers to get through without dissolving into a fit of giggles. With a tried-and-true formula of a not-quite-too-evil leader and lovably bumbling minion, this will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the Despicable Me franchise.

A fantastically fun cartoon romp. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-13274-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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