Saturday, August 08, 2020

Sparks: Double Dog Dare

Boothby, Ian and Matsumoto, Nina. Sparks! Double Dog Dare (Sparks! #2) 
August 4th 2020 by Graphix
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

August and Charlie, the cat masterminds behind the robotic hero dog Sparks, are back with their friends Steve-o the squirrel and the animatronic Litter Box. They are still working on saving people from all manner of disasters, but things are not perfect. Charlie has gotten into a snit on his birthday, but even more pressing is the fact that there is an imposter Sparks, known as Spots, traveling around creating chaos. Spots torches bikes and cars with his flame thrower, creates an avalanche from which the real Sparks has to rescue people, and meets up with Sparks at the Panda Pizza Parlor for a horrible show down. August knows that there must be an evil force behind their doppelganger, but it takes a lot of effort to figure out who it is, especially when he and Charlie as busy dodging flames! In the end, they find that Spots is run by figures from their past who require Sparks help, and August is able to reassure Charlie that the trauma in his past doesn't have to affect his relationship with his new friends.
Strengths: This is a well formatted series that has wide appeal. It's goofy enough to appeal to younger readers, but has some deeper themes like friendship and doing the right thing to keep older readers' attention. Charlie's story about being a kitten was heartbreaking! The real draw, of course, are funny, action packed scenes like the fight at the pizza parlor, complete with Sparks lifting his leg to dispense fire fighting foam. Teachers and librarians will be glad of August and Charlie's empathy for the creatures running Spots. Litter Box is an interesting character, and a short digression about them putting a bee bath is the garden was fascinating. I'm definitely adding one to my bee garden this summer! This was an interesting mix of elements that children and adults will find appealing.
Weaknesses: Because full color graphic novels are expensive to produce, and the paper is high quality and really heavy, these books are expensive in formats that hold up to frequent use. I personally would prefer graphic novels without color, because they would last longer in the library settings, but I know that readers are enticed by the glossy pages and vibrant tones. Black and white books would probably also not smell quite as bad; I read an E ARC of this, so I didn't have to smell the ink, which was great!
What I really think: I have the first book in paperback, and should probably invest in prebind copies of both books, if only for the appealing colors-- best combinations of turquoise, purple and grass green since my plaid pants in 1972.

Pilkey, Dav. Fetch-22 (Dog Man #8)
December 10th 2019 by Graphix 
Library Copy

I think this answers once and for all which series has more literary merit, Captain Underpants or Dog Man. Lil' Petey raises Dog Man to a higher plane, with his insistence on kindness. 

 In fact, if our current government heeded Pilkey's words, we could avoid a lot of social unrest! From page 184, spoken by Molly, a tadpole who has ingested pills that make her "supa" angry: "It is easy to join with the crowd... and even easier to spread anger and hate. But it takes courage to stand alone. And kindness often takes the most courage of all. " 

Still skeeved out by Dog Man's sewed on head, but he has an awesome message!

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