When the jokes work, these hounds are almost as ridiculous as the greatest superheroes.

BEWARE THE CLAW!

From the Hound Heroes series , Vol. 1

Blame Spider-Man.

When Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, he developed the spider’s most notable abilities, like the ability to walk on ceilings. This graphic novel follows the same model, but the dogs in the story develop even less-glamorous abilities after a spaceship crashes in their neighborhood. They develop the powers of, well, dogs. They can shed super amounts of hair and spurt super drool. The jokes are just as silly. Many of them simply repeat the same lines over and over again. Great Dane keeps shouting, “There’s a spaceship in our backyard!” and when Sheepdog asks where it came from, Great Dane says, “Space, I’m guessing. ’Cause of the name. Spaceship.” Those sequences require patience, but some of the jokes are so dopey they’re clever. A horde of evil kittens is distracted by a gigantic laser pointer, and a mecha-chicken is adorably random. But the most appealing feature may be the characters’ expressions. When a kitten uses Sheepdog as a stepstool, the dog’s befuddlement is priceless. The artwork is made up of such simple, open shapes that it looks like a coloring book—or it would if Goldman hadn’t filled it in with bold, eye-catching blocks of color. The few humans in the story are diverse.

When the jokes work, these hounds are almost as ridiculous as the greatest superheroes. (Graphic humor. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64847-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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

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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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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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