Some readers won’t make it through the most painful jokes, but those who do will see something marvelous building itself in...

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THE FLYING BEAVER BROTHERS AND THE EVIL PENGUIN PLAN

From the Flying Beaver Brothers series , Vol. 1

Who says penguins are cute?

The title tells readers everything they need to know. Or, as Ace puts it, “Hundreds of evil penguins!” Ace is a beaver who likes to surf. His brother Bub likes to nap. Together, they have the skills to save their island from a plan involving a gigantic refrigerator. (Eaton has clearly taken great delight in drawing a fridge the size of Graceland.) Children will know if this is their kind of humor when they hear that the story is about an evil refrigerator that threatens the planet. The pictures look, charmingly, like doodles readers might have sketched during a boring class. Some of the jokes are dumb. (BEAVER: “Something smells fishy….” SEABIRDS: “That’s probably us.”) Some are transcendentally dumb. A pun about blueprints is set up with the precision of a rocket launch or a Rube Goldberg device. Not every punch line works, but halfway through, everything clicks into place, and the plot achieves the sort of energy that would have made Goldberg proud. The second book in the series, The Fishy Business (releasing simultaneously), is funny from the first panel. The laws of probability suggest that volume three will be a real achievement.

Some readers won’t make it through the most painful jokes, but those who do will see something marvelous building itself in front of their eyes. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86447-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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