The Great Pet Escape.
By Victoria Jamieson. Illus. by the
2016. 64p. Holt, paper, $7.99 (9781627791069). 741.5.
For the hamster known as George Washington (GW, for short), there is no greater prison
than the second grade classroom. For three
months, GW has been
plotting and scheming,
waiting patiently for things
to fall into place so he can
finally break free from the
joint. It takes some effort
to convince fellow prisoners Barry and Biter to join
him—they actually seem to
like it there—but a well-laid guilt trip does
the trick. On the brink of freedom, the three rodents run up against the biggest obstacle of all,
Harriet the mouse. She and her minions have a
taste for destruction, but will GW have a change
of heart and stop Harriet’s mad plan to ruin the
school? Told with a wickedly sharp sense of
humor, Jamieson’s latest delivers a madcap adventure that is sure to please young readers. The
hilariously expressive rodents guarantee laughs
from page one with plenty of slapstick humor
and pointed one-liners. Jamieson makes excellent use of a variety of panel sizes to maximize
the action, and the liberal use of bright color
adds extra visual punch. —Summer Hayes
Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World.
By Judd Winick. Illus. by the author.
May 2016. 208p. Random, $13.99 (9780385386234); lib.
ed., $16.99 (9780385386241). 741.5. Gr. 2–5.
Hilo, a robot from another dimension, disappeared after saving Earth from destruction.
His human friends DJ and Gina miss him and
are thrilled when he suddenly returns, even
though he’s accompanied by a giant explosion.
But now portals are opening all over town,
dropping killer robots and aliens from other realities, and DJ, Gina, and Hilo must stop these
invaders before their friends and family are
hurt. Book two of Hilo’s adventures amps up
both the silliness and the action. Young readers
will laugh at Hilo’s wacky jokes and Winick’s
terrific comic timing while appreciating the
bravery shown by not only DJ and Gina but
also DJ’s little sister and Polly, a warrior cat
from another dimension. In vibrant color,
Winick’s art is cartoonish, especially when
drawing aliens or robots, but also reflects a realistically multicultural world. There is a recap
for new readers as well as a cliff-hanger ending
that prepares readers for the next volume in this
satisfying and fun series. —Snow Wildsmith
Quest for the Golden Apple: An Unofficial
Graphic Novel for Minecrafters.
By Megan Miller.
2015. 192p. illus. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, paper, $11.99
(9781510704107). 741.5. Gr. 3–5.
Minecraft is an unstoppable deluge, so it’s
no surprise it’s making its way into comics,
too. This unofficial Minecraft-based adven-
ture follows village girl Phoenix, who doesn’t
fit in with everyone else, including her own
family. She dreams of seeing the world outside
the high walls that surround the village, and
one day, she breaks the rules and ventures into
the woods. But when her brother, Xander, fol-
lows, a moaning zombie bites and infects him.
Now Phoenix must leave the village to find
the magical cure to heal Xander, and along
the way, she’ll have to deal with wolves, creep-
ers, and a witch who schemes to use Phoenix
for her own purposes. The highly pixilated art
reflects the distinctive animation-style of the
game and looks like screen grabs, which will
only endear it more to readers who love Mine-
craft. The book reads like the first volume of
a continuing adventure and will leave kids
wanting more. —Kat Kan
The Real Poop on Pigeons!
By Kevin McCloskey. Illus. by the author.
2016. 40p. TOON, $12.95 (9781935179931). 636.5.
Rats with wings? Get out of here with that
talk. McCloskey (We Dig Worms!, 2015) enlists a squad of pigeon-costumed kids to put
in a good word for the much-maligned bird.
As a man on a park bench bemoans pigeons
and their messes, the kids flock towards him,
exclaiming, “There’s more to pigeons than
poop!” Is there ever. Whether racers, mail
carriers, cliff dwellers, or beauty contestants,
pigeons can do far more than pick through
garbage. McCloskey’s acrylic-and-gouache illustrations switch from park scenes to pigeon
close-ups ranging from a labeled bird diagram
to eye-catching breeds like the frillback, fantail, and show king. As a level- 1 reader, the
text consists of conversational, quick facts.
Readers learn that pigeons are fantastic fliers, mate for life, feed their babies with “crop
milk,” and are even related to the dodo.
They’ll also discover that Picasso loved painting these birds, a fact reflected in McCloskey’s
use of pigeon-blue Fabriano paper such as
Picasso used. A playful and informative take
on the ubiquitous, under-appreciated pigeon.
Red’s Planet: A World Away from Home.
By Eddie Pittman. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2016. 192p. Abrams/Amulet, $19.95
(9781419719073); paper, $9.95 (9781419719080).
741.5. Gr. 3–6.
At her foster home, Red—one of seven
kids—never quite gets enough. That, coupled
with powerful wanderlust and fierce indepen-
dence, means that Red is going to strike out
on her own—way out. While traipsing out
of town, Red is abducted by a pair of col-
lectibles-loving aliens to their museum ship,
but a surprise attack leads to a crash landing
on a deserted planet. Now, not only is Red
far from home, she is totally stranded with a
bunch of weird creatures who can’t seem to
get along and one grouchy lion in a Hawaiian
shirt who could help but really doesn’t want
to. Pittman, who made a name for himself as
an animator for Disney, brings a similar visual
style, humor, and pacing to this story, as well
as a nicely articulated sense of movement and
action. His aliens are delightfully bizarre, and
plucky Red, whose determination is admira-
ble, if occasionally grating to her compatriots,
showcases a lively range of emotion. While
there are lots of questions left to be answered,
the cliff-hanger ending promises more install-
ments. —Sarah Hunter
Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Feasts of
By Eric Colossal. Illus. by the author.
May 2016. 128p. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95
(9781419716584); paper, $9.95 (9781419716591).
741.5. Gr. 2–5.
Colossal’s round-headed, jug-eared chef
is back for more adventures in the second
installment in the boisterous comic series. Accompanied by his trusty cauldron, Pot, and
his backpack kitchen, Rutabaga begins by exploring a decrepit castle for a secret ingredient,
which turns out to be a vicious, bloodthirsty
spider (which makes a barf-inducing soup).
One especially great story wordlessly follows
Pot on a journey alone, as it gets into some heroic adventuring by itself. Elsewhere, Ru gets
caught up with a melodramatic band of actors,
then a crafty thief, and, finally, some mischievous gubblins, whose massive appetites lead
to their downfall. All the while, Ru serves up
tasty treats while Colossal delivers big laughs
with his signature blocky, exaggerated figures,
warmly colored small panels, and cartoonish
visual jokes. The episodic format is the perfect
match for Colossal’s brand of quick-fire humor
and comical reactions, and Ru’s occasionally
daft gullibility puts him in some dire—but
hilarious—situations. Fans of the first installment—and there are many—will be eager to
dig into this one. —Sarah Hunter
The Wrong Wrights.
By Steve Hockensmith and Chris Kientz.
Illus. by Lee Nielsen.
2016. 64p. Smithsonian, paper, $10.95
(9781588345417). 741.5. Gr. 4–7.
Four middle-schoolers on a field trip to the
National Air and Space Museum stumble onto
a shocking surprise—the museum has no airplanes. At least, not any more. History has
been changed, and the four kids must travel
back in time to witness a pivotal moment in
the history of air travel and make sure it goes
the way it’s supposed to. As this is the first
of the Smithsonian Institution’s new graphic
novel series, it should come as no surprise
that hefty helpings of historical fact are integrated into the story in the form of characters
and events, along with a final page of deeper
historical detail. Happily, the information is
relevant and interesting (do you know, for instance, the names of the Wright Brothers’ two
major rivals and the sorts of airship prototypes
they developed?) and painlessly included in a
brisk adventure. The crisp art, filled with enjoyable historical detail, also helps to bring out
the fun in the education. Some questions are
cleverly left dangling to pave the way for further adventures. —Jesse Karp