Models attention to detail and deductive reasoning in a fun beach setting, complete with interesting facts.


From the Shelby & Watts series , Vol. 1

Beachcombers and shell seekers, gather ’round and meet Shelby and Watts, Planetary Investigators.

When Fred the hermit crab can’t find a new, larger shell to move into, he seeks out the “brilliant brains” of Shelby and Watts. Shelby, a fox, is the detective in the duo, and Watts, a badger, loves facts, adding simple fun ones—about hermit crabs, tides, tide-pool dwellers, how shells are used, etc.—throughout the story. Watts also loves to catalog clues in his notebook. In fact, the first mystery that Shelby solves is that of Watts’ lost notebook. Young readers can watch Shelby investigate, solve, and explain her deductive process, all while learning to carefully examine all the details in each graphic panel. Once the missing shells are found, it’s “time for the hermit crab shuffle,” in which the members of a colony of hermit crabs all line up and trade up to larger homes. Final pages include “Earth-Saving Tips from Shelby & Watts,” such as taking pictures of shells instead of collecting them, eating seafood from sustainable sources, and cleaning up the beach. The seven chapters are of varying length, but with several one-panel pages and many pages with low word count, the book is shorter than it appears, which should be a confidence boost for young readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Models attention to detail and deductive reasoning in a fun beach setting, complete with interesting facts. (Graphic early reader/mystery. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20531-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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What a wag.

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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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A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.


A craving for the latest tech leads to cat-astrophe in this new addition to the Bad Kitty series.

With her heart set on owning a cellphone, anthropomorphic house cat Kitty plows through three solid months of chores without complaining before her owners reluctantly grant her fervent wish. Then things go rapidly downhill. She becomes obsessed with violent mobile games, gets catfished (no pun intended), divulges too much personal information online, becomes consumed with rage at cyberbullies, and grows listless from excessive screen time. Only after the intervention of a Sphynx cat named Strange Kitty and a monthlong technology fast enforced by her owners does Kitty come to understand that while smartphones are fun, they can also be a serious distraction from real life and true friends. Using a digestible graphic-novel format, the book tackles internet safety and digital media literacy with purr-fect aplomb. The “Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts” section serves as a deep dive into the differences between facts and opinions, and many of Kitty’s quirky feline behaviors ring true. It’s unfortunate that the word lame—a disability-related term with negative connotations—is used by the internet trolls who deride the video Kitty makes and posts on “ViewTube.” Occasional misstep aside, Kitty’s tribulations provide ample fodder for this instructive and amusing tale.

A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-74996-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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