High-intensity, heartwarming, and, above all, hysterically funny.

GRIME AND PUNISHMENT

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 9

All you need is love in this epic ninth installment in the saga of Dog Man and friends.

In important local news, comic creators George and Harold would like to announce that they “TOTALLY got FAMOUS!” before diving into their “next tale of depth and maturity.” And this story, more so than previous adventures, delivers on that promise. Things go wrong right from the outset, when Dog Man is fired from the police force after wreaking doggy havoc at an award ceremony (a poignant rendering of an especially relevant adult fear). Li’l Petey and 80-HD’s haphazard plan to turn their canine friend feline in order to get him rehired conveniently tumbles into a smashing subplot involving Grampa Pete’s latest dastardly plan to destroy the city. Li’l Petey finally reconciles his irrepressible optimism with his father’s stubborn shield of hatred, precipitating the aptly named “Love vs. Hate” final battle. Darker themes, such as parental abandonment and death, are also touched upon, creating the story’s most powerful and moving moments. Indeed, the story generally represents the Dog Man series at its best. Whether through nifty Star Wars references, time-honored slapstick, self-aware wordplay, or plain old wackiness, Pilkey’s comic genius is out in full force. Illustrations, from intimate single-character squares to full-page action blocks, are vivid and lively, and the expressiveness in the cartoon faces only augments the delightful text.

High-intensity, heartwarming, and, above all, hysterically funny. (“authors’ ” notes, art tutorials) (Graphic fantasy. 7-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-53562-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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