An uninspired retread, still with only hints of the wit and silly humor that light up Pilkey’s other series.

RICKY RICOTTA'S MIGHTY ROBOT

From the Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot series , Vol. 1

New, all-color illustrations on shiny paper add gloss to this reboot of a Captain Underpants also-ran.

The plotline remains the same: Small, bullied mouse gains a huge metal friend after rescuing it from its creator, mad scientist Dr. Stinky McNasty. Said friend goes on to subdue the bullies, star in the best classroom show and tell ever, and battle McNasty’s next effort, a giant lizard. The battle is portrayed partly in Pilkey’s trademark Flip-O-Rama (though with Santat’s illustrations) and partly in newly crafted pages of minicomics. Overall, though Ricky and the robot look about the same as they did in the 2000 original (illustrated in a thick-lined, cartoony style by Martin Ontiveros), Santat portrays them in a more lapidary way, with shiny eyes and gleaming highlights. He also adds more background detail, makes the bullies bigger but not so mean of aspect, and exchanges McNasty’s nerdy goggles for an eye patch to give the bad guy a more dashingly villainous air. This last is disappointing: When will we stop using images of disability as signifiers of evil? The drawing instructions at the back of the original edition have been dropped.

An uninspired retread, still with only hints of the wit and silly humor that light up Pilkey’s other series. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-63106-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more