A bright, brisk repackaging that piles on the visual appeal.

DINOSAURS BEFORE DARK

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Magic Tree House series

Two kids climb a ladder to prehistoric adventure in a graphic bid to bring the classic series to an even younger audience.

A half-idle wish that stolid 8 1/2-year-old Jack makes while he and his impulsive little sister, Annie, are sitting in a mysterious, book-filled treehouse whirls the two off to the Cretaceous Period for encounters with dinosaurs both amiable and, in the case of a toothy Tyrannosaurus rex, not so much. The illustrators (twin sisters) make much use of inset and irregularly shaped panels to keep the action trotting along. They craft brightly lit, full-color scenes (more simply drawn than Sal Murdocca’s black-and-white illustrations in the 1992 original) in which Jack’s large eyeglasses and Annie’s big, wide, blue eyes (both kids present White) offer instant keys to their characters, and the dinos wading through grassy, flower-strewn prehistoric landscapes are more beneficent-looking than scary (even that T. rex). Laird incorporates necessary explication into the dialogue, simplifying some vocabulary—Jack’s “I wish I could see a Pteranodon for real,” in the chapter book becomes “I wish we could go there,” as he points to a picture of the flying reptile—but generally sticking to Osborne’s tone and phrasing. In the end the two time travelers get back home in time for dinner…Jack with a certain golden medallion he picked up as a lead-in to the next three episodes.

A bright, brisk repackaging that piles on the visual appeal. (Graphic fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17468-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

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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A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

BAD KITTY GETS A PHONE (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

A craving for the latest tech leads to cat-astrophe in this new addition to the Bad Kitty series.

With her heart set on owning a cellphone, anthropomorphic house cat Kitty plows through three solid months of chores without complaining before her owners reluctantly grant her fervent wish. Then things go rapidly downhill. She becomes obsessed with violent mobile games, gets catfished (no pun intended), divulges too much personal information online, becomes consumed with rage at cyberbullies, and grows listless from excessive screen time. Only after the intervention of a Sphynx cat named Strange Kitty and a monthlong technology fast enforced by her owners does Kitty come to understand that while smartphones are fun, they can also be a serious distraction from real life and true friends. Using a digestible graphic-novel format, the book tackles internet safety and digital media literacy with purr-fect aplomb. The “Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts” section serves as a deep dive into the differences between facts and opinions, and many of Kitty’s quirky feline behaviors ring true. It’s unfortunate that the word lame—a disability-related term with negative connotations—is used by the internet trolls who deride the video Kitty makes and posts on “ViewTube.” Occasional misstep aside, Kitty’s tribulations provide ample fodder for this instructive and amusing tale.

A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-74996-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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