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LUMBERJACKULA

A low-stakes plot balanced by lovable characters and setting.

Half lumberjack and half vampire, Lumberjackula must figure out where he belongs.

Lumberjackula, Jack for short, is a cute, blue-skinned 11 1/2-year-old boy with the pointy ears and fangs of a vampire and the bushy beard of a lumberjack. It is time for Jack to decide whether to follow in his burly mother’s footsteps and attend lumberjack school or attend vampire school like his spooky father. While he has talents in both areas, Jack’s real passion is dance. There are several spreads that showcase Jack’s adorable dance moves, which he breaks out especially when processing emotions. He really wants to attend Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy, but he is afraid to tell his parents. While Jack worries about what his parents think, it’s clear to readers that they will never be anything less than supportive. This keeps the stakes low and makes for a predictable read, even for the intended age group. Despite this lack of tension or anticipation, the premise, endearing cartoon art, whimsical worldbuilding, and characters are charming enough to carry readers to the end. The moral is a step above the obvious “be who you are”: a more nuanced “be everything you are.”

A low-stakes plot balanced by lovable characters and setting. (Graphic novel. 7-11)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8257-9

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

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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 Hamiltonand 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 13, 2018

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What a wag.

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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 Mancomics 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: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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