Spindly the plotline may be, but it’s greened up with a few yuks and rises from an unusually fertile series premise.

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THE FRANKENSTEIN JOURNALS

From the The Frankenstein Journals series , Vol. 1

The discovery of a detailed journal kept by his patchwork dad’s creator prompts a child with mismatched parts of his own to start tracking down his many “cousins.”

Only just found in the box in which 14-year-old J.D. (for John Doe) had been left as an infant at Mr. Shelley’s Orphanage for Lost and Neglected Children®, Dr. Frankenstein’s notebook not only clues the boy in to his parentage (or at least his father’s identity), but provides tantalizing leads to the original owners of dad’s components. As J.D. has inherited eyes of different colors and hands and feet of different sizes, he figures that he’s related to said owners—and so sets out to find them or, more likely, their descendants. His search acquires particular urgency thanks to Dr. Frankenstein’s amoral daughter, Frances Kenstein, who is likewise on a quest to recreate her father’s magnum opus using body parts with the same DNA. Repetitively noting how “cute” she is and uttering “Don’t panic,” and “I’ll figure something out” with mantralike frequency, J.D. rescues an explorer in Antarctica and a would-be young police detective in LA from his acquisitive rival in this two-episode opener. Though occasionally given to clumsy turns of phrase, his narrative is stocked with jokes, blotches, gross bits, typeface changes, side notations, sketched vignettes and color illustrations.

Spindly the plotline may be, but it’s greened up with a few yuks and rises from an unusually fertile series premise. (Light fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4342-9130-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Stone Arch Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme.

KATT VS. DOGG

An age-old rivalry is reluctantly put aside when two young vacationers are lost in the wilderness.

Anthropomorphic—in body if definitely not behavior—Dogg Scout Oscar and pampered Molly Hissleton stray from their separate camps, meet by chance in a trackless magic forest, and almost immediately recognize that their only chance of survival, distasteful as the notion may be, lies in calling a truce. Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit, interspersing explicit exchanges on the topic while casting the squabbling pair with complementary abilities that come out as they face challenges ranging from finding food to escaping such predators as a mountain lion and a pack of vicious “weaselboars.” By the time they cross a wide river (on a raft steered by “Old Jim,” an otter whose homespun utterances are generally cribbed from Mark Twain—an uneasy reference) back to civilization, the two are BFFs. But can that friendship survive the return, with all the social and familial pressures to resume the old enmity? A climactic cage-match–style confrontation before a worked-up multispecies audience provides the answer. In the illustrations (not seen in finished form) López plops wide-eyed animal heads atop clothed, more or less human forms and adds dialogue balloons for punchlines.

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41156-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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