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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more