Kondo and Tsutsumi have created what feels like an instant classic, perilous and terrifying but full of heart, with...

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THE DAM KEEPER

From the Dam Keeper series , Vol. 1

A deadly fog has rolled in and killed everything in its path, but Sunrise Valley is protected by an expertly crafted mechanical contrivance called the Dam in this graphic-novel series opener based on the 2015 Oscar-nominated short subject of the same name.

Pig’s father created the Dam and taught Pig everything about it and how to maintain it. But the madness and grief he felt after losing his wife overcame him, and he stepped out into the fog. Now Pig is alone and has assumed the role of dam keeper. Pig’s plagued by nightmares and awkward around classmates; his best friend, Fox, is the light in his life. Her kindness and spirit have even tamed the bully Hippo, and she is trying to bring them all closer as friends, though Pig and Hippo aren’t quite convinced. School’s out, and Pig eases into the comfort of his solo routine of keeping the Dam, but the fog changes into a new kind of threat, forcing him, with Fox and Hippo, into the world beyond. Every panel of artwork is lush and colorful, with frankly cute animals cast as believable middle schoolers in a post-catastrophe “new normal.” The ever present threat of death and the bright light of hope in the story are beautifully reflected in the artwork, which uses light to astonishing effect, and an expressive use of lettering throughout. The hardcover is luxuriously printed and bound with pages that lay flat—a pleasure to read.

Kondo and Tsutsumi have created what feels like an instant classic, perilous and terrifying but full of heart, with immersive artwork and a rewarding story. Unmissable. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-426-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

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

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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