In future, let’s hope Scout uncovers some mysteries worthy of her commitment to sleuthing.

SCOUTING FOR CLUES

From the Bark Park series , Vol. 2

A dog solves three mysteries.

Scout is a dog of undisclosed breed who appears to visit Bark Park daily with her human. There, she talks with her friends, eats snacks provided by her human, and solves mysteries. Each of the three chapters is a self-contained mystery that barely warrants the label. It may appear to be splitting hairs to point out that dogs most likely would recognize a sweater (which the plot of “The Mystery Material” turns on) even if they hadn’t seen one on another dog, considering how many humans wear sweaters. This also speaks to the quality of the mysteries. Early chapter-book readers may be developing their reading skills, but their critical-thinking skills will generally be advanced enough that the “mysteries” in this book will (most likely) not be mysteries to them. This suits the book best to readers who are more interested in vocabulary and reading practice than in puzzling out mysteries. And though there are some authentically doggy traits present (puppies dash off into danger; canine characters display a high regard for treats, etc.), the canine humor and charm found in other dog-centric books for the audience (such as Dori Hillestad Butler and Nancy Meyers’ King & Kayla series) aren’t so prominent here. Pooler’s full-color spot illustrations help to distinguish the characters, and three separate factual notes that touch on elements found in each chapter conclude the book.

In future, let’s hope Scout uncovers some mysteries worthy of her commitment to sleuthing. (Mystery. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6474-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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

BAD KITTY GETS A PHONE (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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