Mildly amusing bratty antics—but nothing more.

SLACKS, CAMERA, ACTION!

From the Mr. Pants series , Vol. 2

Mr. Pants, his human mother and his feline sisters return for a second graphic-novel-format chapter book.

Armed with a video camera, Mr. Pants wants to make a spy movie to win a contest and get enough money to go to Hawaii, but chores and his little sister Grommy’s tea party stand in his way. Meanwhile, middle child Foot Foot desperately wants to find out the end of her (mind-numbingly lame) bedtime story, but someone has ripped out the last pages. The library’s not open; the bookstore is fresh out! Grommy’s guests arrive, and they have no interest in being in Mr. Pants’ movie. Hilarity does not ensue. McCormick has dialed way down on the above-age-level attempts at humor all too present in the first Mr. Pants tale, but he’s left in the annoying behavior of his cat stand-ins for human kids…though it has been tempered a bit. Mr. Pants’ finished movie, pieced together and overdubbed by the whole family, is painfully unfunny to read. The over-the-top, fake exuberance of the characters and the tedium of the plot are compounded by the staginess of Lazzell’s flat-colored, often horizontal panels.

Mildly amusing bratty antics—but nothing more. (Graphic novel. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4009-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Silly and inventive fast-paced fun

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INVESTIGATORS

From the InvestiGators series , Vol. 1

A zippy graphic-novel series opener featuring two comically bumbling reptile detectives.

As agents of SUIT (Special Undercover Investigation Team) with customized VESTs (Very Exciting Spy Technology) boasting the latest gadgetry, the bright green InvestiGators Mango and Brash receive their newest assignment. The reptilian duo must go undercover at the Batter Down bakery to find missing mustachioed Chef Gustavo and his secret recipes. Before long, the pair find themselves embroiled in a strange and busy plot with a scientist chicken, a rabid were-helicopter, an escape-artist dinosaur, and radioactive cracker dough. Despite the great number of disparate threads, Green manages to tie up most neatly, leaving just enough intrigue for subsequent adventures. Nearly every panel has a joke, including puns (“gator done!”), poop jokes, and pop-culture references (eagle-eyed older readers will certainly pick up on the 1980s song references), promising to make even the most stone-faced readers dissolve into giggles. Green’s art is as vibrant as an overturned box of crayons and as highly spirited as a Saturday-morning cartoon. Fast pacing and imaginative plotting (smattered with an explosion here, a dance number there) propel the action through a whimsical world in which a diverse cast of humans live alongside anthropomorphized reptiles and dinosaurs. With its rampant good-natured goofiness and its unrelenting fizz and pep, this feels like a sugar rush manifested as a graphic novel.

Silly and inventive fast-paced fun . (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21995-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A simple but by no means simplistic tale emphasizing the universality of kindness.

THE WAY HOME

From the Owly series , Vol. 1

A wide-eyed owl yearns to make friends.

Owly, a gentle bird of prey, just wants to help. The other forest creatures fear him even when he approaches with kindness and support. Owly tries leaving seed to feed the smaller birds, but they flee when they spot him. He rescues two insects trapped in a jar, but again, they fly off when they spy the raptor. Owly’s luck turns when he aids a worm named Wormy trapped in a puddle. Wormy and Owly forge an unlikely but genial friendship, and their forest adventures include reuniting Wormy with his missing parents and then befriending—and ultimately having to say goodbye to—two lovely hummingbirds who must migrate south as the seasons change. When adversity challenges Owly, he reacts calmly, communicates his feelings with Wormy, and acts with warmth and bravery. Originally published in 2004 as a wordless, black-and-white volume, this reissue adds both color, with a cheery earth-toned palette, and dialogue among most of the characters, with the exception of Owly, who communicates only through pictures. Runton’s evocative characters are nothing short of huggably adorable and affirm the importance of compassion and empathy against perceived stereotypes. Owly and Wormy both identify as male characters; hummingbird friends Tiny and Angel identify as male and female, respectively.

A simple but by no means simplistic tale emphasizing the universality of kindness. (Graphic fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-30066-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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