If the story is disappointing, it’s only because the earlier books in the series set such a high standard: All of the jokes...

THE FLYING BEAVER BROTHERS AND THE HOT AIR BABOONS

From the Flying Beaver Brothers series , Vol. 5

The Flying Beaver Brothers comics are starting to resemble Mad Libs.

The plot summary for one of the Beaver Brothers books might look like this: Ace and Bub have to keep Beaver Island safe from a group of (plural name of an animal) with a giant (household appliance) that goes (sound effect). In this newest volume, for example, baboons are using an enormous hair dryer to melt all the snow on the island. They want to build a water park. The hair dryer goes “HAROO!” when it’s switched on. This book, like the previous four, is almost as funny as a great Mad Lib. But for returning readers, this may seem like a familiar, fill-in-the-blanks sort of plot. Maybe the next book will stray a bit from the animals-with-appliances formula. The artwork and sound effects are hilarious, as usual, but the simple line drawings don’t convey nuance very well, and the climactic action sequence is a little difficult to follow. It’s like a Michael Bay movie translated into emoji characters.

If the story is disappointing, it’s only because the earlier books in the series set such a high standard: All of the jokes work, but die-hard fans may feel a little exhausted, as though they’d just finished their 100th Mad Lib in a row. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-75466-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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 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: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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