A rare treat, backward and forward.

OTTO

A PALINDRAMA

The panjandrum of palindromes crafts and collects some 200 examples to drive a picaresque graphic tale that (of course!) ends where it began.

Sure, the action is visually driven and most of the panels wordless—but from the initial “Mmm” to the concluding “Peep!” young Otto’s peregrinations are positively laced with well-placed palindromic dialogue, sound effects, signs, billboards, and labels. Ripples in a bowl of soup become a portal that lands the White lad on a beach. After various surreal sights (“Emus sail, I assume?”), he hitches a ride into a city crowded with passersby from “Regan Amy Trapp, party manager” to “Neil, a li’l alien,” then on to stores, a cemetery, and other stops before at last fetching up in his own urban backyard. Though he’s not above a “li’l” fudging (“Wanna potato pan? Naw”), Agee never breaks away from his premise, and he matches lines and locales with terrific ingenuity (at an art museum: “Even I’d order a red Rodin, Eve!” but “Gustav Klimt milk vats? Ug!”; a Robert Indiana–esque POOP sculpture is in the background). Astonishingly, somehow he keeps the plotline (more or less) coherent. Having drawn on the constructions of other palindromists to supplement his own, he readily shares credit in a closing note. The human figures in his palely tinted cartoons are mostly White, but some few have pale olive skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A rare treat, backward and forward. (Graphic fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4162-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

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DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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