A grand, giddy, and, at times, literally soaring tale.

THE SHEEP, THE ROOSTER, AND THE DUCK

Farm animals and French children unite to save the fledgling United States from a scheming mastermind in this airy 18th-century adventure.

Well-informed readers will recognize the titular creatures as the passengers carried into the skies by Montgolfier’s inaugural hot air balloon flight at the Palace of Versailles in 1783. Few, however, will be aware that the three—brilliant aeronautical sheep engineer Bernadette, swashbuckling rooster Pierre, and gifted duck tactician Jean-Luc—went on to lead secret lives righting wrongs and battling evildoers. Notable among the latter is the villainous magician Cagliostro, who, having caught wind of the fact that Benjamin Franklin, a witness to the famous flight, jotted down plans for weaponizing hot air balloons and creating a giant heat ray, has seized both the renowned inventor and his notebook in pursuit of a nefarious plan to make himself King of America. Here, in a mix of prose and profuse graphite drawings that break into mostly wordless sequential panels for action scenes, Phelan lays out a rousing series of chases, clashes, ambushes, and rescues both on and above the ground on the way to a triumphant outcome. The author adds to the animal trio two young humans to do the piloting. He also trots in a host of other historical personages, including Joseph Guillotin (“as sharp a fellow as you are to find in Paris”), Franz Mesmer, King Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette.

A grand, giddy, and, at times, literally soaring tale. (author’s note) (Adventure. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-291100-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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