This series opener is a romp in the park.

DOG DIARIES

A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY

From the Dog Diaries series , Vol. 1

Junior is a dog of great enthusiasm.

Recently adopted from the animal shelter by Mom-Lady, he’s the happy owner of a pet human boy he calls Ruff. Ruff is a good human. He lets Junior sleep on his bed, takes him for walks to the dog park (neighborhood map included), and seems unperturbed by Junior’s ever-so-doggy ways. Unfortunately, Junior accidentally gets away at the dog park and causes all sorts of amusing pandemonium, very annoying to nasty professional dog trainer Iona Stricker. She presents Ruff with an ultimatum: either train his unruly dog (in her class), or she will have Junior returned to the shelter. Junior—once he learns what’s needed—is happy to comply, until his enthusiasm gets the better of him once again. Related in Junior’s endearingly canine first-dog voice, the tale is a quick one, accompanied by Watson’s numerous cartoon illustrations that perfectly capture Junior’s whimsical attitude. A healthy serving of mild bathroom humor should appeal to the intended audience. After all, who doesn’t like to hear of a dog using Ruff’s sister’s shoes for a latrine? The few human characters all appear to be the white default. The broad humor and fast pace will likely entice many a reader turned off by longer, more deliberative tales. Activities and a “Doglish” glossary are included.

This series opener is a romp in the park. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48748-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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