Actually, along with laffs aplenty, a fair quantity of “maturishness and deepality” for biguns and littluns alike.

LORD OF THE FLEAS

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 5

Confession proves good for the soul of Petey, “world’s most evilest cat,” when past misdeeds rear up to threaten him and his saintly clone, L’il Petey.

Adding in a free-wheeling mix of literary references, moral disquisitions, and stupid knock-knock jokes, Pilkey once again has superheroes and kaiju mix it up in squared-off panels of simply drawn, action-oriented cartoons. Here, the arrival of a giant robot brontosaurus driven by the vengeful Fuzzy Little Evil Animal Squad—“We’re not crooks! We’re megalomaniacs!”—pitches Petey and his annoyingly peace-loving mini-me into a rolling fight/flight. Naturally, “Supa Buddies” Dog Man (as “The Bark Knight”), robotic sidekick 80-HD, and, to diversify the otherwise all-animal cast, some previously introduced human regulars, dive into the fracas, and Flip-O-Rama sequences ensue. The FLEAS receive proper comeuppance (comedownance?) thanks to a handy shrink ray, and then it’s time for a dose of wisdom in the form of a dialogue between Petey and Li’l Petey: “If you’re good, nobody cares!!!” “Ya gotta be good anyway, Papa!” “If you’re kind, people just think you’re weak!” “Ya gotta be kind anyway, Papa!” Following a promise of more such “maturishness and deepality” to come, the author closes with his customary drawing lessons, plus plugs for the benefits of reading aloud to pets.

Actually, along with laffs aplenty, a fair quantity of “maturishness and deepality” for biguns and littluns alike. (source notes) (Graphic science fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-29091-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A whimsical rumination on friendship and being present in the moment.

BUG BOYS

From the Bug Boys series , Vol. 1

In this quiet graphic novel, two beetle buddies share gentle adventures.

Rhino-B is a bold rhinoceros beetle who lives with his BFF, a stag beetle named Stag-B, in their charming mushroom home in Bug Village. In a series of vignettes, the duo experience their world by visiting the Insects’ Library, maintained by their friend Dome Spider; helping a neighboring beehive to obtain a lost crown from treacherous termites; and exploring the Deep Dirt Cave with Dome Spider and finding themselves in a bizarrely psychedelic moment. The beetles’ exploits may be unusual, but their friendship and its dynamics are familiar. While episodic, their adventures are low-key, with a meditative feel and an emphasis on staying focused in the present; one night, as the bugs gaze into the night sky, reflecting on anxieties around growing up, Stag-B sagely asserts, “The Earth is big and life is long. Just appreciate where you are now.” Readers looking for fast pacing or plot-driven works may be put off by the insistent introspection, but it will hit the spot for quieter readers. Knetzger’s background as a storyboard artist for the cartoon Adventure Timeis highly visible, sharing its playfully absurdist feel throughout and even its dreamy pastel-hued aesthetic (supplied by Lynde). Rhino-B and Stag-B both identify as male.

A whimsical rumination on friendship and being present in the moment. (beetle facts) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9676-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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