This effervescent package opens to reveal plenty of wisdom.

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WRITTEN AND DRAWN BY HENRIETTA

Argentine cartoonist Liniers presents a graphic ode to the pleasures and challenges of composition, starring his recurring character Henrietta, a young bibliophile.

The little girl's cat, Fellini, looks on as she writes and illustrates "The Monster with Three Heads and Two Hats." Page by page, she narrates her process, her own story appearing in a childlike, colored-pencil scrawl alongside Liniers' polished panels. "In a good story, there's always something that happens 'suddenly'!" she informs Fellini as a hand emerges from a wardrobe into her protagonist's nighttime bedroom. Henrietta and her creator are kindred spirits, displaying equal knacks for the surreal and the utterly charming. "The wardrobe was made in Narnia," she explains to Fellini as she propels protagonist and monster into it, where they discover an inscrutable mouse, a hat for the monster's bare head, and another monster. Liniers covers the importance of judiciously placed punctuation ("those three little dots really add... / ...SUSPENSE!") and research (a trip to the encyclopedia yields a bonanza of hat styles, all depicted) as well as the excitement of creation: "I'm drawing really fast 'cause I want to see what happens next." If the final joke comes at Henrietta's expense ("let's go look for a publisher," she declares at "THE END"), it does so gently and with collegiality. A Spanish-language edition, Escrito y Dibujado por Enriqueta, publishes simultaneously.

This effervescent package opens to reveal plenty of wisdom. (Graphic early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-935179-90-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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