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From the Fangbone series, volume 1

by Michael Rex & illustrated by Michael Rex

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-25521-2
Publisher: Putnam

A lackluster graphic-novel offering for the young-male reading set, full of gross-outs, slapstick humor and out-of-this world adventures.

In the far-away world of Skullbania, fledgling barbarian Fangbone has to suffer the injustices of being little: He gets no respect, no one listens to him and the elders mock him with humiliating requests (“Pick the spider eggs out of my armpit!”). When he volunteers to guard the Big Toe of the detested overlord Drool, he is sent with it to the safety of our world by a powerful Skullbanian sorcerer. Fangbone ends up in class 3G, an unfortunate and uncoordinated motley crew who desperately needs help to win their upcoming beanball tournament (it's “like dodgeball, but the balls are smaller and you throw harder”). Fangbone—who has a wickedly advantageous barbarian throwing arm—needs an army, and the two groups find each other to be extremely beneficial. The illustrations are done in a drab yellow and gray palette and wind their jaundiced way through this predictable plot distinguished by expected formulaic silliness. This series opener offers little novelty—readers will have seen similar tropes explored in Captain Underpants or Jarrett Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady series.

The expected blend of boogers, barbarian battles and beanballs may hold some appeal for young boys seeking hijinks over highbrow literature. (Graphic fiction. 9-12)