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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Silly and inventive fast-paced fun

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INVESTIGATORS

From the InvestiGators series , Vol. 1

A zippy graphic-novel series opener featuring two comically bumbling reptile detectives.

As agents of SUIT (Special Undercover Investigation Team) with customized VESTs (Very Exciting Spy Technology) boasting the latest gadgetry, the bright green InvestiGators Mango and Brash receive their newest assignment. The reptilian duo must go undercover at the Batter Down bakery to find missing mustachioed Chef Gustavo and his secret recipes. Before long, the pair find themselves embroiled in a strange and busy plot with a scientist chicken, a rabid were-helicopter, an escape-artist dinosaur, and radioactive cracker dough. Despite the great number of disparate threads, Green manages to tie up most neatly, leaving just enough intrigue for subsequent adventures. Nearly every panel has a joke, including puns (“gator done!”), poop jokes, and pop-culture references (eagle-eyed older readers will certainly pick up on the 1980s song references), promising to make even the most stone-faced readers dissolve into giggles. Green’s art is as vibrant as an overturned box of crayons and as highly spirited as a Saturday-morning cartoon. Fast pacing and imaginative plotting (smattered with an explosion here, a dance number there) propel the action through a whimsical world in which a diverse cast of humans live alongside anthropomorphized reptiles and dinosaurs. With its rampant good-natured goofiness and its unrelenting fizz and pep, this feels like a sugar rush manifested as a graphic novel.

Silly and inventive fast-paced fun . (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21995-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A crowd pleaser in an otherwise crowded oeuvre.

THE SEWER RAT STINK

From the Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels series , Vol. 1

The ubiquitous rodent journalist returns in a new iteration.

Geronimo Stilton, publisher extraordinaire of the Rodent’s Gazette, has a new story to investigate: New Mouse City is plagued by a deeply malodorous stink. As the stench intensifies, the residents flee, selling their homes. Stilton, flanked by his banana-loving friend Hercule Poirat, forays into the sewers to locate the fount of the funk. There, the duo encounters rat queen Trashfur Sparkles XIII and her Grand Council. Trashfur, the mastermind behind the nefariously noxious plan, has set her sights on wedding Hercule and marrying Geronimo off to one of her council members; how will Geronimo escape this time? This new graphic-novel series published by Graphix/Scholastic (not to be confused with Papercutz’s ongoing Geronimo Stilton, Reporter graphic-novel series) and illustrated by Angleberger (of Origami Yoda fame) utilizes a decidedly more cartoonish style than the Papercutz version, more along the Dav Pilkey aesthetic. Funny and fast-paced, this offering is infused with a generous amount of over-the-top silliness, with occasional breaks to explain jokes to readers (explaining that gorgonzola is a type of cheese, for example). With easy-to-read and varied typefaces and oversized, full-color panels, this should effortlessly appeal to the younger set, making it an obvious choice for those deciding what to read next after Dog Man.

A crowd pleaser in an otherwise crowded oeuvre. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-58730-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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