Though definitely an underachiever when it comes to merit badges, Hilda’s broad curiosity and willingness to stand up for...

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HILDA AND THE BLACK HOUND

From the Hildafolk series , Vol. 3

In a never-a-dull moment third outing, blue-haired Hilda joins Sparrow Scouts, finds out where lost household items go and meets some of Trolberg’s supernatural residents.

As if sightings and news reports of a huge black beast in Trolberg aren’t troubling enough, an increasing number of nisses, helpful but sometimes-mischievous domestic sprites, are being ejected by human homeowners for supposed bad behavior. Meanwhile, Hilda’s patchy efforts to earn her camping and other scouting badges are derailed by her concern for the newly homeless nisses and other distractions. Finally, one befriended nisse shows her how to enter a special space that, being the sum total of all out-of-the-way and unreachable nooks, is cluttered with misplaced bric-a-brac—and that turns out to be where the “Beast,” who is just a lonely oversized dog, is lurking when it’s not barreling destructively through houses. Pearson puts a dozen or more cartoon panels on each page, but his art is so simply drawn that the action is always easy to follow. Also, he adds not just gnomic nisses, but other small creatures, natural or otherwise, to his scenes and places Hilda so that she’s always easy to spot. In the end, she both exonerates the nisses and saves the dog from hunters.

Though definitely an underachiever when it comes to merit badges, Hilda’s broad curiosity and willingness to stand up for the undergnome will make her a winner in most readers’ eyes. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1909263185

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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