SUPERMAN

THE STORY OF THE MAN OF STEEL

Cribbing freely from the classic TV show and the 1978 movie as well as episodes from decades of comics, the Man of Steel tersely describes his origins and strongly declares his intention to “fight a never-ending battle for truth and justice.” As in Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight (2008), Cosentino pairs punchy commentary in a “handlettered” type to large, digitally painted cartoon panels featuring either scenes of the mighty-muscled superhero in action or portraits of sidekicks and select supervillains. Both Superman’s two creators and a cameo of Alfred E. Neuman get proper credit in the acknowledgements, but the many other artists and writers whose work the author/illustrator references or out-and-out copies here pass unmentioned. Furthermore, the text that he hasn’t lifted has awkward turns of phrase, from Superman’s search for “ways to better help Earth and its people” to “No matter what size foes I must face….” While it’s certainly never too soon to introduce children to the first and still greatest of the modern costumed crime-fighters, he, and they, deserve better than this knockoff. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-06285-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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A sweet introduction to sequential art.

BLIP!

What happens if your spaceship crash-lands on an alien planet and your vocabulary happens to be very limited?

A cute-looking, backpack-carrying robot in stylish red boots finds itself stuck on an alien planet when a “Bang! Bang! / Bang! Bang!” sends it scurrying. The story that ensues is told in a simplified comic-book format of one or two panels per page and the occasional double-page spread. The little robot has a vocabulary that consists mainly of one word: “Blip.” Uttered as a statement, a question, or an exclamation, the word is always in a speech bubble, as the form dictates. As the robot wanders along using its one word with the creatures it encounters, it finds itself in all sorts of situations, from the scary to the bewildering. Richards’ dynamic page composition will keep readers engaged, and his very expressive little robot will keep them rooting for a happy ending. Along the way readers will find plenty of details to catch their eyes. Not everything is as it looks. In the end the robot returns to its ship only to find a skirt-wearing robot in stylish orange boots busily fixing its own ship. The happiness they both experience upon finding another of their own kind is expressed in one big and satisfying mutual “BLIP!” While kids won’t pick up much vocabulary, it’s hard to imagine a better lesson in how to read the format.

A sweet introduction to sequential art. (Graphic early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935179-98-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A droll, rather sweet addition to the flood of “I want my hat back” tales.

CAPTAIN BARBOSA AND THE PIRATE HAT CHASE

When a sea gull snatches his hat, a pirate sets out to get it back.

A stern chase is a long chase, as this wordless import (from Spain) demonstrates. Enraged by the theft of his skull-and-crossbones hat, the captain charges off in a ship crewed by an elephant, a crocodile, and a mosquito. Various adventures later, from a storm to an encounter with a huge, green, one-eyed sea monster, the pursuers catch up at last—only to find the hat repurposed into a nursery. Fans of Jon Klassen’s hat dramas may be disappointed by what happens next: The captain shrugs, hugs the provident parent, and departs with a friendly wave. The white captain’s massive orange beard shines out from González’s loosely drawn and brushed nautical scenes; with that to focus on, even younger viewers should have no trouble sailing through the sequential panels. That the sea monster is entirely benign and even helpful also adds to the story’s friendliness to the younger edge of the audience range. Humor abounds, from the absurd casting choices for Barbosa’s crew to the moment when the chortling mariners add an orange pigtailed wig to the captain’s exposed, bald pate.

A droll, rather sweet addition to the flood of “I want my hat back” tales. (Graphic adventure. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4154-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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