As Button puts it: “We may be tiny, but we’re still fearsome.” Aye to that.

THE GREAT CHEESE ROBBERY

From the Pocket Pirates series

Two-inch pirates sally forth to the rescue when their cat is kidnapped by malign mice.

When Pepper Jack and his knavish crew of wall-dwelling rodents spirit off furry Jones, they leave an eloquent if nonverbal ransom note consisting of pictures of a cat and a wedge of cheese. Instantly, intrepid ship’s boy Button, matey Lily, Capt. Crabsticks, and seasoned salt Old Uncle Noggin set out from their junk-store ship in a bottle to raid the chilly realm of Fridge in the owner’s back apartment for the redolent ransom (and to restock their own larder). Neither attacks from voracious woodlice and a gigantic slobbery dog nor the slimy necessity of hiding out in a tub of margarine and a half-used can of dog food sway the expedition from its mission(s). A cutaway view of the shop at the end with labels aplenty allows readers to retrace the outing’s winding course. Festooning his simply told yarn with drawings of diminutive buccaneers (all white) in exaggeratedly swashbuckling costume amid the clutter and outsized provender of a human-sized world, Mould brings his Pocket Pirates series to this side of the briny deep in fine adventuresome style.

As Button puts it: “We may be tiny, but we’re still fearsome.” Aye to that. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9115-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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