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NOODLEHEADS SEE THE FUTURE

Two delightfully dense heroes bring folk tales into the 21st century, and young readers are all the richer for it.

Two thickheaded macaroni noodles prove the old adage: a fool and his firewood are soon parted.

Fools have been called “noodleheads” for centuries, but until recently few have represented the term quite so literally. Mac and Mac aren’t the brightest pieces of pasta in the world, but their hearts are in the right place. Here, the two decide to help their mama out by gathering firewood in hopes that she’ll bake them a cake. As they are attempting to cut the very branch they’re sitting on, a passing meatball points out that they are mere minutes away from bruised bottoms. When his words come to pass, our heroes decide the meatball is clairvoyant and demand to know their future. Drawing on and smoothly weaving together a variety of folk tales, the brief graphic novel describes how its obtuse protagonists single-mindedly seek cake, even as they anticipate death, purchase “firewood seeds” (aka acorns), and accidentally dig their mother a garden. Emergent readers will appreciate the simple text, short chapters, and comics-inspired paneled illustrations. Adults will appreciate the authors’ note, which goes into some detail about each chapter’s folk origins.

Two delightfully dense heroes bring folk tales into the 21st century, and young readers are all the richer for it. (Graphic early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3673-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What a wag.

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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 Mancomics 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: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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FROG AND BALL

From the I Like To Read Comics series

Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages.

Never underestimate the chaotic fun that magic and an angry bouncing ball can create.

When Frog goes to the library, he borrows a book on magic. He then heads to a nearby park to read up on the skills necessary to becoming “a great magician.” Suddenly, a deflated yellow ball lands with a “Thud!” at his feet. Although he flexes his new magician muscles, Frog’s spells fall as flat as the ball. But when Frog shouts “Phooey!” and kicks the ball away, it inflates to become a big, angry ball. The ball begins to chase Frog, so he seeks shelter in the library—and Frog and ball turn the library’s usual calm into chaos. The cartoon chase crescendos. The ball bounces into the middle of a game of chess, interrupts a puppet show, and crashes into walls and bookcases. Staying just one bounce ahead, Frog runs, hides, grabs a ride on a book cart, and scatters books and papers as he slides across the library furniture before an alligator patron catches the ball and kicks it out the library door. But that’s not the end of the ball….Caple’s tidy panels and pastel-hued cartoons make a surprisingly effective setting for the slapstick, which should have young readers giggling. Simple sentences—often just subject and verb—with lots of repetition propel the action. Frog’s nonsense-word spells (“Poof Wiffle, Bop Bip!”) are both funny and excellent practice in phonetics. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4341-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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