No story can justify the presence of haiku, but this comic book comes remarkably close.

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NIGHT OF THE LIVING DOGS

From the Chicagoland Detective Agency series , Vol. 3

It may not sound like a compliment, but the talking dog isn’t nearly the oddest thing in this gloriously odd mystery book.

Anyone watching American television would have to conclude that being a detective is the easiest job in the world. People are always solving crimes in their spare time: Mystery writers, doctors and the occasional district attorney solve murders when they come home from work. In that tradition, Robbins offers two kid detectives, Megan and Raf, and Raf’s talking dog, Bradley. Megan is a poet. Raf invents toys. And Bradley, of course, is the smartest of them all. As unlikely as the plot may seem—it involves a missing puppy, a robot squirrel and a pack of dogs that appears only at the full moon—it’s hugely entertaining. Every non sequitur makes the story funnier, and the squirrel is hilarious. (His packaging says, “He picks up peanuts with his little robot paws!”) There’s only one serious flaw: Megan writes haiku. Several literary magazines refuse to publish haiku, and this comic proves them all right. The best poem reads: “O moon, where’d you go? / You never write, never phone. / At least, a postcard?” But the plot is gripping even at its goofiest, and there are a few genuine surprises.

No story can justify the presence of haiku, but this comic book comes remarkably close. (Graphic mystery. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5637-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Brava! (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava! (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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