Rather tame animal adventures for new graphic-novel readers.

EXPEDITION BACKYARD

EXPLORING NATURE FROM COUNTRY TO CITY

Two animal friends learn about the great outdoors in the city and country and form the Adventurers Club.

Mole and Vole are opposites. Mole is tentative, cautious, and artistic; Vole craves danger and adventures. But while the duo’s friendship will feel familiar to readers of Elephant and Piggie and Frog and Toad, it’s not as well developed as those others, the dialogue often feels forced, and the true facts shared about animals encountered can feel didactic. In five chapters, the two share adventures near their country homes, inside a human home on a rainy day, and in the city after Vole’s curiosity lands the two in a moving box. Large panels in each chapter allow those new to graphic novels to follow along, and a final double-page spread in most summarizes the adventure in Mole’s sketchings. In between, an overhead view with a colored dotted line and multiple sightings of the adventurers, whose numbers swell to five club members, shows their route and the many things they spy. In the background is the subplot of a Black family’s move to the city and the initial loneliness and first friendship of their little girl. While body language and facial expressions are clear for most of the anthropomorphized animals, young children may have trouble with Vole; her heavy-lined eyebrows frequently make her look angry when she is meant to feel determined or excited.

Rather tame animal adventures for new graphic-novel readers. (how-to’s: draw Mole and Vole, keep a nature journal, join a community garden, stop birds from hitting windows, be a good cat owner, compost at home; about the creators) (Graphic fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12734-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Mancomics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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