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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A crowd pleaser in an otherwise crowded oeuvre.

THE SEWER RAT STINK

From the Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels series , Vol. 1

The ubiquitous rodent journalist returns in a new iteration.

Geronimo Stilton, publisher extraordinaire of the Rodent’s Gazette, has a new story to investigate: New Mouse City is plagued by a deeply malodorous stink. As the stench intensifies, the residents flee, selling their homes. Stilton, flanked by his banana-loving friend Hercule Poirat, forays into the sewers to locate the fount of the funk. There, the duo encounters rat queen Trashfur Sparkles XIII and her Grand Council. Trashfur, the mastermind behind the nefariously noxious plan, has set her sights on wedding Hercule and marrying Geronimo off to one of her council members; how will Geronimo escape this time? This new graphic-novel series published by Graphix/Scholastic (not to be confused with Papercutz’s ongoing Geronimo Stilton, Reporter graphic-novel series) and illustrated by Angleberger (of Origami Yoda fame) utilizes a decidedly more cartoonish style than the Papercutz version, more along the Dav Pilkey aesthetic. Funny and fast-paced, this offering is infused with a generous amount of over-the-top silliness, with occasional breaks to explain jokes to readers (explaining that gorgonzola is a type of cheese, for example). With easy-to-read and varied typefaces and oversized, full-color panels, this should effortlessly appeal to the younger set, making it an obvious choice for those deciding what to read next after Dog Man.

A crowd pleaser in an otherwise crowded oeuvre. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-58730-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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