Inexpertly translated, sketchily plotted in spite of an inflated word count and endowed with interactive effects that are,...

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URKI AND THE ANSWER TO ALL QUESTIONS

The happy conclusion to a diminutive troll’s search for his parents (Urki, Beyond the Forest, 2012) replaces some of the opener’s kinks in language and design with new ones.

Offering smoother page turns than the previous episode—and lacking, for better or worse, its intrusive pinball-game extra—this continuation takes little Urki to the Temple of Answers. There, he learns that a certain evil sorcerer doesn’t even exist except as his own internal fears, so he goes back to where he started for a happy reunion and a perfunctory “final battle” with the requisite band of orclike Ghatnys. Readers can swipe to advance and tap an icon to return to the table of contents, but that’s it for interactive features. There is no audio narration nor, aside from faint rising glows and snatches of sound, any digital enhancements to the scatter of cartoon illustrations. Moreover, the wordy narrative, available in English or Spanish, not only still reads like a description of a video game, but along with a misspelled chapter head and some leakage from the Spanish text, the general quality of the writing takes a nosedive: “It was an enormous tower made up of thousands of small towers that were completely different”; “Suddenly, Cinzia came to a dead stop with no warning.”

Inexpertly translated, sketchily plotted in spite of an inflated word count and endowed with interactive effects that are, by current standards, anemic: skip it. (iPad fantasy app. 7-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: PixelMoon

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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 fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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