BILLY JOHNSON AND HIS DUCK ARE EXPLORERS

Could an ambitious young janitor become an explorer?

Young Billy Johnson works as a custodian at the Explorers League, where he aspires to be an Ace Explorer, just like Hal Hardwick. Clad in his omnipresent tie and bearing a sword named Mr. Jabbers at his side, the pompadoured Billy and his best friend—an anthropomorphic white duck named Barrace who is a renowned college professor—embark upon swashbuckling adventures. In this episodic graphic novel, Billy and Barrace set out on four thrilling quests, including a trip into a volcano near the ruins of the once-great Monkey Kingdom, the capture of an enchanted ring in the hall of the Ghost King, an expedition to find the mysterious desert-dwelling Atlas Bear, and a battle against magical monsters in the Hero Trials. Once he completes his missions, will Billy finally be allowed to join the Explorers League? First-time author and illustrator New’s full-color, blazingly paced tale is self-contained so readers may pick up and enjoy the abundant madcap silliness out of sequence. Despite the bite-sized vignettes, there is an overarching and unresolved narrative thread, leaving just enough intrigue to fuel subsequent exploits. While only a handful of humans are present in this volume, Billy and the majority are white; unnamed background characters encompass a more diverse spectrum.

A quirky graphic debut. (Graphic fantasy/adventure. 7-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68446-150-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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