Book review: The Bad Guys in The Furball Strikes Back, by Aaron Blabey

Blabey, Aaron. The Bad Guys in The Furball Strikes Back. (Bad Guys series, book 3) Scholastic, 2017. $5.99. 140p. ISBN 978-1-338-08749-9. Ages 6-10. P9Q9

After rescuing 10,000 chickens in Mission Unpluckable, the motley crew of “bad” guys turned into “The Good Guys Club” led by Mr. Wolf face more danger from Dr. Marmalade, the evil mad scientist guinea pig, was wants revenge for the chicken rescue. Mr. Wolf is captured along with the snake and the shark, leaving the piranha and tarantula to save the day. Fortunately, the ninja-like Special Agent Fox steps in to help, but Mr. Wolf’s crush on her may cause more problems. The simple illustrations on large, sometimes full-page panels, are full of shouting in bold, all caps type that contribute to the excitement.

Verdict: Well laid out and simple, the drawings clearly show the different creatures, and the crazy humor, including the group’s in-fighting dialog, is non-stop. Although the graphic novel can be read without the first two books in the series, reading those two books first would enhance the enjoyment. A wonderful sequel by the Australian author with a short taste of the crew’s fourth adventure against an army of zittens—zombie kittens.

December 2017 review by Nel Ward


Book review: The Only Lonely Panda, by Jonny Lambert

Lambert, Jonny. The Only Lonely Panda. Tiger Tales, 2017. ISBN 978-1-68010-065-5.  $16.99.  32 p.  Ages 3-7.  Q7P8

I love the artwork in this book!  Panda wants to be friends with the other Panda so badly, but doesn’t know where to start.  He tries to mimic the animals around him to get her attention.  Dancing like flamingos, bouncing like lemurs, or stomping like the blue-footed booby doesn’t seem to help.  In the end, sharing a meal does!  I really like the message that sharing helps make friends.  I was not so happy that Panda only wanted to be friends with the other panda.  There were lots of other animals around him that could have been fun to meet.


Verdict:  A beautiful book with a nice message, unless you look too deep.  For the younger kids an explanation may be needed why Panda doesn’t consider being friends with the other animals in the book.

December 2017 review  by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Bently & Egg, by William Joyce

Joyce, William. Bently & Egg. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9781481489492. Ages 3-5. P8Q8

This beautifully illustrated book tells a sweet story about Bently Hopperton, a frog, who egg-sits Kick Kack the duck’s egg. Bently thinks the egg is dull looking, so takes it upon himself to paint it and make it more beautiful. The egg is grabbed by a horrid child, who doesn’t smash the egg only because it “the Easter Bunny left it”. The adventure continues as Bently tries to get the egg back to the nest.

Verdict: This is a new edition of a book originally published by Harper in 1992.  Recommended for libraries that do not already own the title.

December 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: A Christmas for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Becker, Bonny. A Christmas for Bear. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick Press, 2017. Unpaged. ISBN 9780763649234. Ages 5-9. P8Q7

I loved this story about Bear, who wants to have a Christmas party but isn’t exactly sure how to go about it, and Mouse, who really wants a Christmas present. Bear is pretty sure that you have to have pickles at Christmas, and long, difficult poems. Mouse scurries around the house looking for his present, which must be hidden somewhere! After Mouse eats some of his pickle, and listens to part of the poem, we discover that there is indeed a present for him. I love the humorous illustrations (in watercolor, gouache, and ink) and the descriptive language, as well as the warm story about friendship.  I will be happy to add this book to our collection of Christmas stories for children.

VERDICT: This book is a good bet for elementary school and public libraries.

December 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: The Messy Book, by Maudie Powell-Tuck, illustrated by Richard Smythe

Powell-Tuck, Maudie. The Messy Book. Illustrated by Richard Smythe. Tiger Tales, 2016. $16.99. ISBN 9781680100372. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P9Q8.

Remember being told to clean up your room? Cat’s colorful mess takes over the pages and the dog loses patience with the cat’s refusal to clean up.  Cat tries to push the mess into the forest, into the ocean, refusing the clean up, but the forest animals and marine animals object to the mess.  Cat reluctantly agrees to clean up with the help of the other animals and the project’s conclusion requires a party—which results in another mess.  Colorful illustrations of collage-style bits and pieces make this humorous book a winner for small children (though adults may not always enjoy the humor). Word bubbles and expanding font size carry the dialogue-driven story.  Children will enjoy finding the fox hidden in the pictures, as well as the clueless giraffe and the occasional penguin.

Verdict: I’ve enjoyed this one more with every re-reading.  Highly recommended for public libraries as well as for preschool and kindergarten collections.

December 2017 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: The Big Bad Fox, by Benjamin Renner, translated by Joe Johnson

Renner, Benjamin. The Big Bad Fox. Trans. by Joe Johnson. First Second, 2017. $15.99. 187p. ISBN 978-1-62672-331-3. Ages 9-13. P9Q10

The protagonist of this book is just the opposite of the title: “the big bad fox” can’t intimidate the chickens on the farm. He can’t even learn how to growl realistically when the wolf tries to teach him. Small line-less panels against a white background make close-up earth-toned line-and-wash ready for a film as the fox follows the wolf’s directions—stealing three eggs to hatch for food. The fox, first a pitiable creature, becomes lovable, albeit curmudgeonly—as he eventually protects his chicks from the big bad wolf who decides to make lunch from them. Another great character is the lazy dog who is supposed to be guarding the hen house. The graphic novel was originally published as Le grand mechant renard and is being made into an animated film in France.

Verdict: The scenes of the fox’s parenting are hilarious as the chicks believe he is their mother, and the reverse of role adds to the humor with blood-thirsty chickens and the timid fox.

Summer 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Great Art Caper. by Victoria Jamieson

Jamieson, Victoria. The Great Art Caper. (Pets on the Loose! series). Holt, 2017. $7.99. 48p. ISBN 978-1-62779-119-9. Ages 5-9. P9Q8

Class hamster GW (George Washington) joins his friends guinea pig Sunflower and bunny Barry to foil Harriet and her mice minions as these terrors of the second floor set out to ruin the school art show. GW is proud of second-grader Carina because she has the only entry, but Harriet thinks that blaming GW for their destruction will force the three critters out of their classroom cage to St. Bart’s Obedience School for Unruly Pets. Charming illustrations in this comic novel follow the cuddly creatures as they thwart Harriet’s plans, frequently in a silly fashion.

Verdict: Cute without being too saccharine, silly without being stupid. One of the better books about animals for little ones.

Summer 2017 review by Nel Ward.