A knight’s tale in shining armor

READ REVIEW

MAX AND THE MIDKNIGHTS

From the Max and the Midknights series , Vol. 1

In the 14th century, young Max yearns to buck convention and be a knight.

In this fictional, European-esque kingdom, Max lives with Uncle Budrick, a comically terrible troubadour. Children in Byjovia follow in the career footsteps of their families; Max however, dreams not of songs and lutes but of becoming a knight. When Budrick is captured by the nefarious usurper King Gastley, Max finds a crew of like-minded kids and forms the Midknights. Together they fight an evil sorceress, zombies, and winged rats in their efforts to save Max’s uncle and, ultimately, the kingdom from Gastley’s evil grasp. This middle-grade graphic/prose hybrid plays with gender conventions, mixing in a feel-good theme reaffirming that everyone should be able to follow their dreams and defy pre-existing gender constructs. Plucky, gender-nonconforming Max makes a heartfelt soliloquy imploring the king to allow both girls and boys to pursue what they love, be it magic, knighthood, or writing. The zippy mix of prose and comics panels rockets along with quick plotting and lots of funny medieval madcap antics. Peirce’s black-and-white illustrations will be stylistically familiar to fans of his Big Nate series and should resonate with fans of Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid. Main character Max presents white, as are most of the Midknights with the exception of one dark-skinned boy; one other is chubby, and a secondary adult character uses a leg prosthesis.

A knight’s tale in shining armor (. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-93108-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

What a wag.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more