For Stilton readers who prioritize interpersonal relationships and friendship over mysteries and action.

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THE SECRET OF WHALE ISLAND

From the Thea Stilton series , Vol. 1

The first book in the graphic-novel spinoff of the Thea Stilton chapter books, themselves spinoffs of the Geronimo Stilton franchise.

It’s a new school year at Whale Island’s Mouseford Academy for the Thea Sisters (not actual siblings but a group of friends centered around Thea Stilton). Written for fans of the Thea Stilton series, the book assumes familiarity with the characters and skips introductions. Two traditions mark the start of a new year—the school dance, which yields a subplot about the girls trying to find dates, and the arrival of whales at the island. But this year, a whale has broken the pattern by arriving early, swimming without the other whales and even attacking fishing boats. It’s up to the Thea Sisters to figure out why the whale is acting strangely and to solve the orca’s problem. The problem is connected to a celebrity cosmetics entrepreneur, a special guest to the school on account of her generous donation and her children’s enrollment as new students. The celebrity has an illegal, secret hobby—collecting sea life. Her hobby leads to a couple of footnotes with ocean-animal facts, though the story is more concerned with entertainment than education. The resolution comes far too easily in a short plot that is lacking in obstacles. Plot limitations notwithstanding, the colorful characters’ revealing body language and expressive faces keep even simple conversation scenes’ illustrations dynamic.

For Stilton readers who prioritize interpersonal relationships and friendship over mysteries and action. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59707-403-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Papercutz

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

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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