Sunday, July 25, 2021

Cover Reveal and Review: Pugnapped! by Marty Kelley


Commander Universe Saves the Day (Sort of)
by Marty Kelley
Sterling Publishers
Middle Grade Adventure / Graphic Novel
128 pages
ages 7 to 10 


Fourth-grader Stevie Blunt needs money to pay for a rare comic book so when a neighbor needs a last-minute dog sitter for her beloved pug, Stevie transforms into Commander Universe, ready to be the hero this citizen needs (and earn the money for his comic book). But then the dog goes missing, and Commander Universe has just hours to find out what happened. Follow the daring escapades of Commander Universe as they dodge mind-controlled squirrels, Mystery Neighbors, and new neighbor Abi in their attempt to save the precious pug.


This is a book really written for younger middle graders with full-speed imagination, determination and simple, exciting fun.

Stevie...or more correctly said Commander Universe is determined to get one of the 1000 limited edition copies of his ultimate, favorite comic series. But first he has to come up with $75 (and that before his arch-enemy does). When his neighbor agrees to let him dog sit her pug for even more than the needed money, Commander Universe finally has a way to save someone's day (and earn his comic book). Things don't go as planned as someone steals the pug from its super, cozy house. Commander Universe is off to save the day...but being a superhero isn't an easy task.

I love finding kidlit which is really written for kids and not what adults think kids would like, and this book is exactly that. Stevie's determination to be Commander Universe might seem over the top, but it's exactly what my own child or a couple nieces and nephews have done...just more in other directions like animals and such. Stevie embraces his own idea of fun without allowing others to ruin it with their poking and bullying attempts. And he has friends, who are ready to jump into his world with him. So, this alone made it a great read in my eyes.

Of course, this one is well-written and very nicely paced. There's a lot of dialogue, little description (just right for the age group), tons of woven in humor, and adventure pure. It's not clear what has happened to the stolen pug or who the true villain. It is clear that Stevie's so caught up in his own world that he makes some mistakes along the way. It's a great mix, which keeps the reader in the pages...and even more reluctant ones.

This book is an interesting mix of graphic novel and classic novel form.  The illustrations are very well done and let every moment shine. These are placed just right with the other text, so that the different moments develop as they need to. It's interesting, and it works.

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