Children who appreciate being a little smarter than the characters they read about will relish it.

NOODLEHEADS LUCKY DAY

From the Noodleheads series , Vol. 5

In another easy-reading graphic novel told in three loosely connected stories, the well-meaning but naïve pasta siblings Mac and Mac find out that luck is with them.

In Chapter 1, their old frenemy Meatball introduces the anthropomorphic ziti to honey, but the noodleheads understand it as “trouble.” Seeing an opportunity for mischief, Meatball then gives them a bag of “trouble.” The paper bag contains bees, but luckily, their mother intercepts it. By sheer coincidence, she has just built herself beehives, and what starts as a problem ends up being a boon. In Chapter 2, Meatball sells the brothers a watermelon that can hatch cats. Of course it doesn’t, but of course they end up with a kitten anyway thanks to the generosity of Farmer Spud. Chapter 3 shows them trying to think of a strong name for the kitten, starting out with Sky and Cloudy, then moving to sillier names such as Hippopotamus, Blippopotamus, and Nincompoop. (The cat’s expressions as they try these names out are hilarious.) When Mom says that the kitten is lucky to have the brothers as caregivers, they fasten on the right name and shout: “We got Lucky!” Arnold’s paneled cartoons extend the silliness. Fun-loving kids will laugh out loud as Mac and Mac make mistakes but end up OK. Adults will enjoy the excellent story source notes.

Children who appreciate being a little smarter than the characters they read about will relish it. (Graphic early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4002-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent.

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THEY ALL SAW A CAT

Wouldn’t the same housecat look very different to a dog and a mouse, a bee and a flea, a fox, a goldfish, or a skunk?

The differences are certainly vast in Wenzel’s often melodramatic scenes. Benign and strokable beneath the hand of a light-skinned child (visible only from the waist down), the brindled cat is transformed to an ugly, skinny slinker in a suspicious dog’s view. In a fox’s eyes it looks like delectably chubby prey but looms, a terrifying monster, over a cowering mouse. It seems a field of colored dots to a bee; jagged vibrations to an earthworm; a hairy thicket to a flea. “Yes,” runs the terse commentary’s refrain, “they all saw the cat.” Words in italics and in capital letters in nearly every line give said commentary a deliberate cadence and pacing: “The cat walked through the world, / with its whiskers, ears, and paws… // and the fish saw A CAT.” Along with inviting more reflective viewers to ruminate about perception and subjectivity, the cat’s perambulations offer elemental visual delights in the art’s extreme and sudden shifts in color, texture, and mood from one page or page turn to the next.

A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5013-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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