Fishy hijinks at high verbal and visual volume.

BANANA FOX AND THE GUMMY MONSTER MESS

From the Banana Fox series , Vol. 3

Spoiler alert! A red herring actually turns out to be the bad guy in the canary-colored crime stopper’s third caper.

Hardly do Banana Fox and his brown-skinned human sidekick, Sharyanna, reopen their detective agency and smoothie stand than Sour Grapes Jr., foxy scion of the lime-tinted villain of previous episodes, hires them to prove that his imprisoned dad is “secretly innocent.” Despite clues galore, this turns out to be tougher than expected because the jail has just been destroyed and the senior Sour Grapes is nowhere to be seen. Obviously (obviously!), the stage is set for battles with the crime daddy’s archrival Red Herring and the gooey pink gummy monster he has created. A failed escape attempt by the carmine carp beneath a giant balloon that pops like the color in Kochalka’s overcaffeinated cartoon scenes at last leads to a double collar that lands both rapscallions in the rebuilt hoosegow. “Wowie Pow!” as Banana Fox is wont to exclaim. Even Junior wants to join the detective agency now…but does he have an ulterior motive? Is this (as the author puts it) “The End?” Not likely.

Fishy hijinks at high verbal and visual volume. (Graphic humor. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-66055-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

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DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Man comics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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