Not perfect but a pleasant-enough caper that bridges a gap between leveled readers and chapter books.

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FOUL PLAY AT ELM TREE PARK

From the Q & Ray series , Vol. 3

A hedgehog and rat solve a gentle whodunit.

Quillan, a tawny-hued hedgehog who goes by Q, and Ray, a chocolate-colored rat, return for their third graphic-novel mystery. Inspired by famous women ballplayers, Q has joined the Loons baseball team and is anticipating a fun season practicing catching. Ray, however, is more interested in indoor pursuits, sharing his recent reading about forgery and fakes. This information comes in handy as the pair soon discovers that a valuable signed baseball has been stolen and a forgery left in its place. Stephen Shaskan’s panels are large and bright, focusing on the prominently displayed characters alongside uniformly stylized and easy-to-read speech bubbles. As they are constructed with blocky outlines and solid colors lacking detail, readers may find it difficult to discern exactly which mammals they are intended to depict. Although a stand-alone mystery, this new case does not rehash necessary details explained in earlier installments, which may be perplexing to series newcomers. Those familiar with the series, on the other hand, may notice that this volume follows an almost identical investigational path as its predecessor, reinforcing mystery conventions for young readers but perhaps causing more-seasoned ones to feel it is stale. This affable mystery is probably best for younger readers looking for more of a challenge than leveled readers provide.

Not perfect but a pleasant-enough caper that bridges a gap between leveled readers and chapter books. (Graphic mystery. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2644-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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OTTO’S ORANGE DAY

Young Otto loves orange so much that when a sly genie rises up out of an old lamp he receives from Aunt Sally Lee, he uses his one wish to turn all the world that color. His ensuing bliss changes to blues, though, after he gets a gander at his orange lunch and then sees what happens on the street when every traffic light is the same color. Cammuso illustrates comics veteran Lynch’s tale in neatly drawn sequential panels, casting Otto as a cat (marmalade, of course) in human dress and pairing him with a blue, distinctly Disneyesque genie. Discovering that said genie hasn’t eaten in 880 years, Otto cleverly calls on the persuasive power of pizza to reverse the wish, and by the end all’s well. Low on violence and high on production values, this comics-format “Toon Book” will leave emergent readers wishing for more. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9799238-2-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: RAW Junior/TOON Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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Another outing positively radiant with child appeal, featuring a pair of close siblings with complementary personalities.

BENNY AND PENNY IN LIGHTS OUT

From the Benny and Penny series

It’s bedtime for the mouseling brother and sister—but not before plenty of horsing around and a deliciously scary expedition into the backyard.

As little Penny quietly tries to wash up and pretend-read a story (“One day the princess was sent to her room for being bratty. But she had a secret door…”), her restless big brother interrupts obnoxiously with warnings about the Boogey Mouse, loud belches and other distractions. When Benny realizes that he’s left his prized pirate hat in the backyard, though, Penny braves the Boogey Mouse to follow him out of the window and prod him into reclaiming it from the spooky, dark playhouse. She also “reads” him to sleep after the two race, giggling at their fright, back indoors. Framed in sequential panels that occasionally expand to full-page or double-spread scenes, the art features a pair of big-eared, bright-eyed mites (plus the occasional fictive dinosaur) in cozy domestic settings atmospherically illuminated by the glow of lamps, Benny’s flashlight and the moon. As in this popular series’ earlier episodes, dialogue in unobtrusive balloons furnishes the only text, but the action is easy to follow, and Hayes provides plenty of finely drawn visual cues to the characters’ feelings.

Another outing positively radiant with child appeal, featuring a pair of close siblings with complementary personalities. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-935179-20-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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