This fourth installment in the Cat Kid Comic Club series from Dav Pilkey is another triumph, not only because of its trademark graphic format, but for the inspiration within for young writers and illustrators. Join Li'l Petey, Molly, Flippy and the baby frogs, as they share their successes and failures in story creation with the world. They also provide an insight into the process of writing, with each chapter using either a slightly different graphic format and/or a different writing technique. In Wendy and Raine’s chapter about their dad’s life story, they use a traditional comic format in the illustrations, but have incorporated A LOT of exaggeration in the actual story. Gilbert and Curly learn about copyright and parody in their creation of Frogzilla. Summer and Starla use photography and the art of Haiku for their story.
There are chapters highlighting storyboarding, recycling toys to create completely different characters, using real life sequential images instead of illustrations, 3-D modelling, being an agent, getting published, and all the while learning to be respectful, resilient, creative and collaborative. My favourite chapter is Billie and Corky’s story Run Little Baby, Run!!! because it incorporates mondegreens – the misinterpretation or mishearing of phrases to create totally new meanings – and an order of two large French fries and a supa-sized shake becomes two large French flies and a supa-sized snake with hilarious consequences.
The thing I love about the Cat Kid stories is that readers won’t even know they are absorbing and learning all of these creative insights because of the very clever and thoughtful way Dav Pilkey writes and presents the books. Bright, colourful, humorous illustrations with large, colourful fonts, and funny, engaging stories that are quick and easy to read, are what capture the children’s imaginations. And the graphic novel format has been such a drawcard for reluctant readers. Many children who found chapter books a struggle are now avid readers, thanks to authors and illustrators like Dav Pilkey who make reading accessible, appealing and most of all - fun!
Watch the trailer for Melvin and Naomi's comic creation Chubbs McSpiderbutt: Easy Spider below
Supporting teaching themes include family, persistence, resilience, collaboration, respect, copyright, graphic novels, photography, recycling, storyboarding, story writing and publishing.
Find out more about the Cat Kid Comic Club series.
Find out more about Dav Pilkey.
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Release date November 29th, 2022.
ISBN: 9781338846621 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 7 - 10.
The Last Kids On Earth and the Forbidden Fortress by Max Brallier, Ill. by Douglas Holgate
An impenetrable fortress and a cosmic hand that is beginning to take on a mind of its own, are just the beginning of Jack’s problems in Book 8 of this graphic novel series. He and June have been staking out the fortress for weeks trying to find a way in so they can stop the evil warlord Thrull, from getting the schematics to The Tower. Thrull captured Ghazt and took him to the fortress so Wracksaw could extract the plans from Ghazt’s brain. Once finished, The Tower will allow Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds, access to their world where he’ll do exactly what his name suggests – destruct their world!
While Jack and June were being attacked by a not-so-tiny Splotcher, Quint, Dirk and Skaelka reappeared and saved the day! With the friends reunited, Skaelka reveals that the fortress fell through from her dimension, and that she was held prisoner there. She also knows there is only one way in because when she escaped, there was only one way out – the Cliff of Infinite Fatalities. As they try and come up with a plan to scale the cliff and infiltrate the fortress, Jack feels the cosmic hand, a new and not so welcome physical addition, start to pulse and tighten, and realises he has to be the one to somehow scale the cliff.
And so begins The Best Buddies Mission Force to break into the Fortress and save the world. Zombies, explosions, swamp monsters, fierce winds, Razorkaws and monster guards abound, but the most surprising discovery is that Skaelka wasn’t just speaking poetically about the heart of the fortress. The Fortress is actually alive! The group manage to scale the cliff and get inside where fights ensue with monster guards and, after almost being outnumbered, Jack’s much-loved monster dog, Rover, reappears with some new friends, The Goon Platoon, who add much needed monster fire power. They win the battle and penetrate the inner sanctum. Here they watch, stunned, as Wracksaw attaches armacles to the ceiling, his body glowing as he begins extracting the information from the brain of a motionless Ghazt. Suddenly Thrull appears, sucks the schematics into his own brain, and leaves triumphant.
Jack feels the cosmic hand pulsing, drawing him towards Ghazt who, with his dying breath, reveals the purpose and power of the cosmic hand. The story finishes with three important cliff hanger questions which will only be answered in the next exciting episode: Will Thrull build The Tower? Will Rezzoch be released? and Will Jack master the power of the cosmic hand?
Max Brallier and Douglas Holgate have delivered yet another epic, fast paced, thrill-a-minute ride in The Last Kids on Earth and the Forbidden Fortress. This will be a winner with fans of the series, and although it’s probably best to have read at least some of the other books, there are enough hints in the first few chapters to enable those who haven’t done so to catch up on previous dangerous, heart-stopping encounters. This story is packed with sci-fi fantasy adventure, humour, and fantastic illustrations, but also delivers on the important themes of friendship, bravery, loss, acceptance and relationships.
The graphic novels have made a very successful crossover from page to screen as a Netflix original TV series.
Supporting teaching themes include friendship, bravery, loss, zombies, monsters, relationships, science fiction, comics, graphic novels and cartoon illustrations.
Watch the trailer for The Last Kids On Earth and the Forbidden Fortress below.
Find out more about The Last Kids On Earth Series
Find out more about Max Brallier
Find out more about Douglas Holgate
Published by HarperCollins and released through HarperCollins Australia & New Zealand
Release date October 5th, 2022.
ISBN: 9780008582340 (BPB)
Highly recommended for ages 8 +