A winsome round of wordplay and self-esteem–building.

IT'S OWL GOOD

From the The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea series

In the wake of her black-and-white Sherlock Bones series, Treml introduces a new set of graphic books for the early reader crowd, this time in full color.

Ollie, a young owl, is intent on being a superhero. There is only one problem—Ollie doesn’t know what their superpower is. As other animals point out, owls are supposed to have extraordinary eyesight; but Ollie wears glasses, which makes for a lot of self-consciousness. Then Ollie meets Bea, a white bunny, who insists that Ollie has “super-vision” despite the glasses. Bea wants a superpower too, so Ollie suggests a range of possibilities, including having big feet and being “supernice,” but none of them satisfy Bea. More animals show up for a game of superheroes; readers learn that Simon the squirrel is superspeedy, muskrat Ceecee is a superswimmer, and Pedro the chameleon can change color. When Ollie self-deprecatingly lets slip that he can see in the dark and Bea unwittingly hops very high, the other animals help them to appreciate the special personal gifts they have overlooked. This amusing early reader offers a set of pun-tastic conundrums presented in a simple comic-book format. Treml’s unsaturated digital illustrations are rendered using a minimalist palette of blue, green, gray, and white. The only indication of the characters’ genders is their names since no gendered pronouns appear in the text. Young readers unsure about their own superpowers will join Ollie in cheering at the story’s “hoppy ending.”

A winsome round of wordplay and self-esteem–building. (Graphic fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66633-084-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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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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What a wag.

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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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