Guaranteed fun for young readers, who will eye their classroom pets with some suspicion in the future

THE GREAT PET ESCAPE

From the Pets on the Loose! series , Vol. 1

Classroom pets have a wild night in the halls of Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary.

George “GW” Washington the hamster has languished in the prison that is second grade for over three months, and he finally has everything he needs to break out. After the students are gone, he escapes and frees his old buddy Barry the bunny, held in first grade…but then they must brave the worst cellblock, kindergarten, to free their old pal Biter the guinea pig. However, Biter has gone through a slight transformation thanks to exposure to daily happy singing and a shared learning community; she does yoga and calls herself Sunflower now. Just as they are strategizing their escape from the building, Harriet, one of the fourth-grade white mice, informs them that upper-grade pets rule the school. With the muscle (and questionable appetites) of Lucinda the fifth-grade snake, Harriet captures the trio and relocks them up. Can they escape and save the children from Harriet’s evil scheme? Graphic novelist Jamieson aims for a younger crowd than Roller Girl’s (2015) with this slightly sarcastic and totally loony tale of friendship and the quest for freedom…which turns out to not be what GW thought it would be. Refreshingly, she doesn’t rely on such tired graphic tropes as extra-long eyelashes to set her female characters apart.

Guaranteed fun for young readers, who will eye their classroom pets with some suspicion in the future . (Graphic fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-106-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

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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