MR. PANTS

IT'S GO TIME!

From the Mr. Pants series , Vol. 1

McCormick and Lazzell try to pass off frenetic bad behavior and annoying sibling rivalry as amusing antics and engaging character development in this graphic-style chapter book.

The focus is on family interactions and everyday activities, though the family in question is at least a little bit odd. Inexplicably, Mr. Pants, an orange cat with two distinctly different-sized eyes, Foot Foot, a smaller gray cat, and Grommy, a white kitten with a pink bow, have a human mother who sports stylized Laura Petrie hair and gives off a retro vibe. The plot focuses on big brother Mr. Pants, who nags his mom for an end-of-summer outing while whining his way through a trip to the “Fairy Princess Dream Factory” and a back-to-school shopping spree. Uneven attempts at injecting humor vary from adultcentric (Mom’s shoe addiction and Mr. Pants’ nicknames for his sister, which include My Left Foot and Agony of deFeet) to gross-out (Mr. Pants’ grungy room). Despite the graphic-novel format, there’s no sense of flow to the static artwork, which features panels of varying sizes in mostly muted shades of mustard, plum, gray and mauve with flat, spare settings and simply silhouetted characters. Pedestrian, predictable and totally tedious, this generic effort fails to appeal either visually or literarily. (Graphic novel. 7-9)

 

Pub Date: July 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4007-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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