High-intensity, heartwarming, and, above all, hysterically funny.

GRIME AND PUNISHMENT

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 9

All you need is love in this epic ninth installment in the saga of Dog Man and friends.

In important local news, comic creators George and Harold would like to announce that they “TOTALLY got FAMOUS!” before diving into their “next tale of depth and maturity.” And this story, more so than previous adventures, delivers on that promise. Things go wrong right from the outset, when Dog Man is fired from the police force after wreaking doggy havoc at an award ceremony (a poignant rendering of an especially relevant adult fear). Li’l Petey and 80-HD’s haphazard plan to turn their canine friend feline in order to get him rehired conveniently tumbles into a smashing subplot involving Grampa Pete’s latest dastardly plan to destroy the city. Li’l Petey finally reconciles his irrepressible optimism with his father’s stubborn shield of hatred, precipitating the aptly named “Love vs. Hate” final battle. Darker themes, such as parental abandonment and death, are also touched upon, creating the story’s most powerful and moving moments. Indeed, the story generally represents the Dog Man series at its best. Whether through nifty Star Wars references, time-honored slapstick, self-aware wordplay, or plain old wackiness, Pilkey’s comic genius is out in full force. Illustrations, from intimate single-character squares to full-page action blocks, are vivid and lively, and the expressiveness in the cartoon faces only augments the delightful text.

High-intensity, heartwarming, and, above all, hysterically funny. (“authors’ ” notes, art tutorials) (Graphic fantasy. 7-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-53562-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic.

A PINCH OF MAGIC

From the Pinch of Magic series , Vol. 1

When an ancient curse threatens her life and the lives of her sisters, Betty Widdershins seeks a way to break it.

Adventurous, 13-year-old Betty and her two sisters—Fliss, elder, and Charlie, younger—all live on the island of Crowstone in a decrepit village inn operated by their grandmother Bunny, who has always been strangely reluctant to let her granddaughters go anywhere. After Betty’s abortive attempt to surreptitiously leave Crowstone, Bunny reveals the family secret: All Widdershins girls have been under a curse for over 150 years. If one ever leaves Crowstone, she will die by the next sunset. Bunny gives Fliss a mirror, Betty nesting dolls, and Charlie a traveling bag, each containing a different magical power, to use if they need to hide or escape quickly. Intent on altering their fate, the sisters accidentally trigger the curse by leaving Crowstone while helping a young stranger escape from prison. For heroine Betty, who has “spent her life wishing for bigger things,” the imminent threat of losing her sisters proves life-changing. Facing death by the end of the day, Betty must rely on the magical objects, her sisters, and clever thinking to uncover the origins of the Widdershins curse while simultaneously confronting a rapid-fire series of perilous plot twists, betrayals, and shocking revelations in an effort to remake her family history. Betty and her family appear to be white.

A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-19331-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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