Rather tame animal adventures for new graphic-novel readers.

EXPEDITION BACKYARD

EXPLORING NATURE FROM COUNTRY TO CITY

Two animal friends learn about the great outdoors in the city and country and form the Adventurers Club.

Mole and Vole are opposites. Mole is tentative, cautious, and artistic; Vole craves danger and adventures. But while the duo’s friendship will feel familiar to readers of Elephant and Piggie and Frog and Toad, it’s not as well developed as those others, the dialogue often feels forced, and the true facts shared about animals encountered can feel didactic. In five chapters, the two share adventures near their country homes, inside a human home on a rainy day, and in the city after Vole’s curiosity lands the two in a moving box. Large panels in each chapter allow those new to graphic novels to follow along, and a final double-page spread in most summarizes the adventure in Mole’s sketchings. In between, an overhead view with a colored dotted line and multiple sightings of the adventurers, whose numbers swell to five club members, shows their route and the many things they spy. In the background is the subplot of a Black family’s move to the city and the initial loneliness and first friendship of their little girl. While body language and facial expressions are clear for most of the anthropomorphized animals, young children may have trouble with Vole; her heavy-lined eyebrows frequently make her look angry when she is meant to feel determined or excited.

Rather tame animal adventures for new graphic-novel readers. (how-to’s: draw Mole and Vole, keep a nature journal, join a community garden, stop birds from hitting windows, be a good cat owner, compost at home; about the creators) (Graphic fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12734-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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