Raucous fun at the sound of midnight.

LIVI & NATE

A WINTER'S NIGHT

From the Livi & Nate series

Nighttime dreams ward off the pull of deep sleep in Hakkola and Ahokoivu’s jubilant graphic novel.

Amid the thick snow, Livi and Nate play, sled, toss snowballs, and tease. Grandpa struggles to continue shoveling, so Mom calls everyone in from the cold. After a bit of tidying up, some hot cocoa, and a bath, it’s time for bed. Noises from outside frighten Livi, who wakes up an annoyed Nate. Could it be the snow animals they made earlier? Mom reassures them that everything will be OK (cue Livi: “Make sure you check!”), and Livi falls asleep and dreams of a tea party. Oh no! A snow bear named Teddy interrupts the tea and cakes, asking for Livi and Nate’s help! Using some quick wits and a very long scarf, Livi saves Daphne the dragon from incoming spring. The dream rolls happily along until a “BLING” wakes Livi up. What could it be this time? The ensuing narrative follows a similar pattern: sleep, dream, noise, and investigation. The Finnish creators’ words convey a certain degree of playfulness that cements the bond between Livi and Nate above everything else. Similarly, their artwork—saturated with sheets of colors, arranged in spreads of sequential actions with occasionally dissonant frames—exemplifies the pale-skinned pair’s nervy energy, even if readers may get lost among the hijinks at times.

Raucous fun at the sound of midnight. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-372-9

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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Elevates the graphic novel genre with its heartfelt focus on mental health and immigrant experiences.

LIVING WITH VIOLA

Do you have a voice in your head telling you to doubt your self-worth?

Enter Chinese Canadian Olivia Siu Leen Tong. She loves art, books, and making dumplings with her mom, but she struggles with being carefree and happy like her peers. Even harder, her parents enroll her in a new, better middle school, where she struggles to make friends. As immigrants from Hong Kong, her parents have sacrificed so much to give her opportunities, but with this come high expectations to be the perfect daughter. All the pressure causes her self-doubt to manifest as Viola, a shadowy version of herself. Viola spews insidious, undermining messages, causing Livy to fall into depression and have panic attacks. Although she finally makes some good friends and even starts enjoying school, Viola lurks in the back of Livy’s mind and sabotages her at every turn. As her life starts unraveling, she must decide whether to reveal her secrets and ask for help. In a debut inspired by her own life, Fung uses bold illustrations in warm shades of red and orange; whenever Viola appears, the palette darkens to purples and grays as swirling, negative thought bubbles overwhelm Livy like waves. Fung delicately balances the heavy subject matter of mental health issues, microaggressions, identity, cultural differences, and belonging with humor and heart.

Elevates the graphic novel genre with its heartfelt focus on mental health and immigrant experiences. (author’s note, Cantonese glossary, character sketches) (Graphic fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77321-548-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Hooray, hooray for this par-tay.

FOX & RABBIT CELEBRATE

From the Fox & Rabbit series , Vol. 3

Five more stories featuring buddy pair Fox and Rabbit.

Following the formula of its predecessors, this third installment of the Fox & Rabbit series focuses on Sparrow’s “super-trooper special” birthday. A slightly unrelated opening story introduces a variety of animal characters as Fox—proudly adopting the moniker “Fix-it Fox”—goes around trying to solve everyone’s “enormous problems.” In the next story, Fox and Rabbit scheme to make the “biggest, roundest, yummiest pizza in the world.” They pilfer ingredients from Sparrow’s garden (a nod to the first book) and ask Mouse for mozzarella. Subsequent stories—each contained in a chapter—involve a pizza-cooking dragon, the “really awesome” party, and a birthday wish that finally comes true. Dudás’ full-color cartoon illustrations complement Ferry’s chipper tone and punny dialogue for an upbeat woodland romp. Even the turtle, who always comically arrives at the end of the chapter and misses most of the action, gets to enjoy the party. Another standout scene, in which Fox assumes Dragon doesn’t speak their language and speaks “Dragonian” unprompted, gently addresses microaggressions. Though all dialogue is clearly linked to each speaker, some scenes with lots of back and forth within a single panel gear this to comics readers with a bit of experience. Still, the eight-panel–per-page max and short chapters keep the text accessible and pace quick.

Hooray, hooray for this par-tay. (Graphic early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5183-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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