Plenty for kids to enjoy, even if the storyline falls flat.

THE HEIST AGE

From the Dinomighty! series , Vol. 2

The Dinomighty crew works together to protect the Dino Lisa portrait from their nemeses.

Dinomighties Teri-Dactyl, Dave, T-Lex, and the chicken, Bach, leverage their strengths to outwit the bad guys led by Bully Mammoth. The Mayor of Dinotown charges the Dinomighties with protecting the priceless painting the Dino Lisa, but former baddies the Diplos are hot on their trail. They team up with Bully Mammoth, who is at the top of the nemesis list to try to steal the Dino Lisa and stop the Dinomighties. There’s plenty of content in this graphic novel with high appeal for kids: dinozombies, scatological humor, and fight scenes. The all-star, most fun character is the brainiac Bach, who only ever says, Bok! and who often swoops in to save the day with a hack or some chemistry. While the characters are all very likable and fun on the page, the plot is a little thin. There’s no clear motivation for the bad guys (why steal the Dino Lisa?) other than that they are bad guys who therefore do bad things. Blecha’s illustrations, however, add plenty. From little details, like the Diplos eavesdropping on the mayor, to the creative perspective in a scene where the dinozombies close in on the Dinomighties, the art helps buoy the story. The end sets up the next book in the series.

Plenty for kids to enjoy, even if the storyline falls flat. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-33157-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Etch/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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