This series opener is a romp in the park.

DOG DIARIES

A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY

From the Dog Diaries series , Vol. 1

Junior is a dog of great enthusiasm.

Recently adopted from the animal shelter by Mom-Lady, he’s the happy owner of a pet human boy he calls Ruff. Ruff is a good human. He lets Junior sleep on his bed, takes him for walks to the dog park (neighborhood map included), and seems unperturbed by Junior’s ever-so-doggy ways. Unfortunately, Junior accidentally gets away at the dog park and causes all sorts of amusing pandemonium, very annoying to nasty professional dog trainer Iona Stricker. She presents Ruff with an ultimatum: either train his unruly dog (in her class), or she will have Junior returned to the shelter. Junior—once he learns what’s needed—is happy to comply, until his enthusiasm gets the better of him once again. Related in Junior’s endearingly canine first-dog voice, the tale is a quick one, accompanied by Watson’s numerous cartoon illustrations that perfectly capture Junior’s whimsical attitude. A healthy serving of mild bathroom humor should appeal to the intended audience. After all, who doesn’t like to hear of a dog using Ruff’s sister’s shoes for a latrine? The few human characters all appear to be the white default. The broad humor and fast pace will likely entice many a reader turned off by longer, more deliberative tales. Activities and a “Doglish” glossary are included.

This series opener is a romp in the park. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48748-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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