Foolish feline fun conceals a lesson about xenophobia, helping middle graders absorb it.

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KITTEN TROUBLE

Kitty’s humans foster displaced kittens…a recipe for kitty conflict!

In the midst of Bad Kitty’s ongoing dust-up with the paper carrier (who routinely aims for Kitty’s head when he tosses the paper), Bad Kitty’s humans take in some unfamiliar kittens from a conflicted neighborhood nearby. Kitty’s having none of it—after all, Kitty doesn’t share (Uncle Murray here breaks in with series-trademark Fun Facts about feline territoriality). After Kitty shows her characteristic hostility to the refugees, her humans call Uncle Murray to come over to school Kitty in how to be nicer…but Kitty has so traumatized Murray in the past, he agrees that the kittens present a danger—they will grow up to become cats, after all. After a bad dream and time to reflect, Uncle Murray and Kitty come around and apologize to the kittens for their prejudice…and Kitty uses what she’s learned to befriend the paper carrier. As with other recent volumes in his popular series, Bruel uses goofy humor and his curmudgeonly cat character to take on a weighty issue. While Uncle Murray’s Fun Fact segments offer practical advice on introducing new cats to existing cats, Bad Kitty’s tale counsels tolerance and empathy when dealing with others.

Foolish feline fun conceals a lesson about xenophobia, helping middle graders absorb it. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-18208-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good.

THE BAD GUYS IN MISSION UNPLUCKABLE

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 2

The foursome of reformed villains returns with a new mission and new team member in a continued effort to repair their reputations in Blabey's (The Bad Guys, 2017) rollicking sequel.

This second installment opens with our would-be heroes, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Mr. Piranha, fresh from their bold liberation of the local pound, finding that the media is not spinning in their favor. Accused of terrorizing rather than rescuing, the group (at least Mr. Wolf) refuses to admit defeat—"We're the GOOD GUYS here!"—and begins planning a new mission to free innocent chickens from their deplorable confinement in the Sunnyside Chicken Farm. But if the team can't work together—something all the more difficult with the team a little panicked by the addition of Legs (a friendly, tech-genius tarantula) and one of the group suspiciously excited to greet the chickens—a rescue mission may be all but impossible. Despite some language devaluing of mental diversity (“freak out,” “loco,” etc.) that may turn some readers off, Blabey once again deploys moral ambiguity to overall success, challenging fear as a justification for prejudice and mistakes as reasons to give up. The narrative has lost no comic momentum from first to second book, juxtaposing classic riffs on Mission Impossible and new visual gags unique to these delightfully wry characters.

Another uproarious romp that explores what it is to be good as well as do good. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91241-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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