Young readers will howl for this tale that combines a timely, smart message alongside crowd-pleasing silliness.

THE WOLF IN UNDERPANTS

Is a frosty fanny the cause of the forest creatures’ fear?

The woodland denizens fear the wolf and its “crazy eyes” and “fangs like ice picks.” Their marketplace bristles with stalls hawking anti-wolf alarms, wolf-defense karate, and wolf traps, and lectures about the wolf are always well-attended. However, when the critters, led by the heavily armed “anti-wolf brigade,” actually meet the wolf, they are surprised by his mild manner and prominent red-and-white–striped undies. Soon they learn that a chilly keister had made the wolf uncomfortable, causing its eerie howls and terrifying demeanor. The animals now face an existential crisis; who will buy wolf traps and attend lectures now? The wolf sensibly tells them, “maybe you need more in your lives than just fear.” With numerous mentions of butts and underpants, expect the requisite giggles. Those assuming this is another tale of self-acceptance will be pleasantly surprised by the turn to the dangers of fear and prejudice. (Those hoping for some address of the language demeaning mental illness will be disappointed.) Older readers with a keen eye should be able to spot a darkly comic twist at its conclusion. Large, earth-toned illustrations range in size from lush two-page spreads to smaller, compact, borderless panels, creating an engaging hybrid between a picture book and graphic novel that would work well read independently or aloud.

Young readers will howl for this tale that combines a timely, smart message alongside crowd-pleasing silliness. (Graphic/picture-book hybrid. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2818-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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