The book is so frenetic that some readers will need caffeine to get through it, but in the end, that turns out to be an...

COSMOE'S WIENER GETAWAY

From the Galactic Hot Dogs series , Vol. 1

This highly illustrated story has something for every demographic, offering robots, zombies, hot dogs, a princess, video games and wrestlers. This is not a complete list.

Even people who hate princesses might enjoy the book, thanks to snarky dialogue. Hero Cosmoe gasps, “What the butt?! What are you doing here??” “Stealing your ship, silly. I’m an evil princess. Y’know?” Princess Dagger knowingly responds. Cosmoe just wants to serve up hot dogs (his food truck is called the Neon Wiener), but he’s being chased around the galaxy by Evil Queen Dagger and her Royal Armada, who are after the princess. Within a few chapters, he’s fighting zombie space pirates. The fight scenes are the weakest parts of the book. They read like transcripts of video games: “He swings! I duck AND—WHOOSH!—The Boss Worm’s fist flies over my head. NOW! YES!” It’s hard to engage emotionally when most of the nouns and verbs are missing. But there are some terrific jokes. When Cosmoe is getting tossed around by a robot, he muses, “Now I know what underwear in a dryer feels like….” The overall effect is a little like flipping through every channel on cable TV.

The book is so frenetic that some readers will need caffeine to get through it, but in the end, that turns out to be an advantage: If a joke doesn't work, or if readers get bored, all they have to do is turn the page. (Graphic/science-fiction hybrid. 7-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2494-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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