GABBY & GATOR

A comical and cinematic tale centers on the budding friendship between a bullied young vegetarian and a carnivorous alligator with water issues (thanks to being flushed down a toilet when small). Available for purchase and reading exclusively through the publisher’s app, this digital edition reads well enough on a tablet or PC despite being a reduced scan of the quarto paper edition. Placing his figures in clearly defined panels, Burks, an animator for Disney and other studios, uses a simply drawn cartoon style and a limited color palette to create an open, retro look suitable to the quickly moving story line. Most of the panels are wordless, and where there is dialogue it’s terse, large and legibly hand-lettered. Though two full-spread scenes require a page “turn” to view, the story is best read in portrait orientation, as all of the other panels are single-page or less, and some include written notes or printing that becomes too small to read in double-page landscape mode. Readers expecting razzle-dazzle animation should look elsewhere: The app delivers no special features beyond the ability to purchase the publisher’s manga and graphic novels in digital format. Regardless, on either paper or screen, young readers will enjoy following these unlikely partners as they help each other work through personal hang-ups while evading a Taser-wielding Animal Control officer. (iPad graphic-novel app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7595-3145-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Yen Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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As delightful as any of the bounteous, monkey-filled books out there.

MONKEY & ROBOT

FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS

A third outing for friends Monkey and Robot spells all sorts of F-U-N.

Catalanotto continues the series’ usual formula: four stand-alone chapters peppered with the primate-machine odd couple’s antics. In the first chapter, Monkey asks Robot which day he was born. Robot says, “I was not born. I was built.” Since that “built-day” happens to be the next day, Monkey brainstorms aloud his wildest party ideas. Cake! Cookies! Balloons! Surprises! Despite Robot’s insistence that he doesn’t want to celebrate, Robot eventually goes along with the plan—and maybe even feels as special as Monkey wants him to. Other chapters cover a visit from an “ex-gladiator” (translation: exterminator), a birdsitting accident involving the neighbor’s parakeet, and a giggly, messy human baby. Though all four chapters practically bounce with silliness, there’s an overall groundedness that supports the overarching “I can fix it” theme. Black-and-white illustrations carry the text’s simple dialogue and occasional narration from panel to panel. On average, there are three or four panels per page. The few human side characters show some diversity in skin tone. Clothed, anthropomorphic Monkey’s childlike innocence and curiosity are spot-on—if a bit too human for pure comfort. One notable scene touches briefly on transracial adoption when Monkey asks why mother Tina, who presents white, looks different from baby Zhen, who is Chinese.

As delightful as any of the bounteous, monkey-filled books out there. (Graphic early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939547-59-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Just the ticket for readers who find it hilarious to decorate a broccoli for Christmas or discover that what looks like deep...

SIMONE: EVEN MORE MONSTROUS

From the Simone series , Vol. 2

Repulsively blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned Simone steps out of sluglike young Morris’ bedroom closet for further ventures into the counterpane world of monsters.

Following the lead of Simone: the Best Monster Ever (2017), the 44 independent episodes read like a collection of comic strips—each presented on a single page in three to five cartoon panels with a twist or punch line at the end. Despite occasional lapses, such as Simone’s hard-won discovery that when Morris says the stars in his world are like birds what he means is that they poop, in general Simard dials down the grossness here. Now the jokes run along the lines of how much more fun hockey is once the other team’s goalie is eaten, or the revelation that a cubist Picasso painting Simone admires is actually Morris’ friend Norman. The variously colored, eyed, and armed creatures in the art are likewise more comical than scary, and throughout, their reactions to Simone, like hers to them, are matter-of-fact acceptance rather than terror or disgust.

Just the ticket for readers who find it hilarious to decorate a broccoli for Christmas or discover that what looks like deep snow on the lawn is actually shaving cream. (Graphic picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-300-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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