Cute critters, compassionate kids, and community—what’s not to love?

ANIMAL RESCUE FRIENDS

In five interweaving stories, local suburban kids bond with pets and gain social-emotional skills thanks to Animal Rescue Friends, their local shelter.

In Chapter 1, brown-skinned, fluffy-ponytailed Maddie bonds with a stray dog only to surrender him to Animal Rescue Friends when her landlord reminds her mom of their apartment’s no-pet policy. In Chapter 2, a family of ferrets helps type A shelter volunteer Bell, a White-presenting girl with glasses, learn her limits and know when to ask for help. In Chapter 3, Mikey Ramirez, a brown-skinned Latinx boy, is anxious about the crowds at ARF’s Adoption Day, but a feisty bunny helps him stand up to bullies. Chapter 4 sees Noah, who presents Black, win over an ornery stray cat, reassess his priorities, and model kinder ways to have fun for his friend and neighborhood bully Jimmy, a White boy. The final chapter unites the whole crew as Maddie learns that the owner of her favorite shelter pup has been searching for him and her plans for a final special afternoon with him go awry. Characters have a uniform (thin) body type, but their skin color, hair texture, and implied racial and ethnic identities vary. Clear lines, bright colors, and a semirealistic cartoon style exude friendliness and combine with adorable animals to make a highly appealing read. An extensive behind-the-scenes introduction to how comics are made, written by Whitney Matheson, profiles some comics creators for kids and outlines different creative roles and processes with straightforward enthusiasm.

Cute critters, compassionate kids, and community—what’s not to love? (glossary) (Graphic fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6806-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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

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DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

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 Hamilton and 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 14, 2018

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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 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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