Scholastic, 2016 139 pages
Bad Guys series #1
Wolf is tired of his bad reputation and being labeled as a "bad guy". He decides to create a team of fellow "bad guys" to go on a PR mission to change the public's perception. The team consists of Mr. Wolf, himself, Snake, Piranha, and Shark. The gang dons black suits and sunglasses, get a super-cool getaway car, and cruise around the neighborhood looking to save the day. Their first mission to save a cat from a tree does not go as planned, but the gang will not be deterred. They plan a big job: freeing 200 dogs from the dog pound. This is not an easy caper. They must get over the fence, past the twenty guerrilla guards, and somehow unlock the cages. The team works together on a hair-brained scheme to accomplish the mission, that is not without hilarious hijinks and missteps. The dogs indeed are freed, yet remain somewhat ungrateful. The gang must try harder to prove their innocence to the public, leading the reader to...
The Bad Guys in Mission Unpluckable
Scholastic, 2017 139 pages
Bad Guys series #2
A new member has joined the team: Tarantula, who proves himself a computer whiz, yet scares Shark senseless. The new mission is to rescue 10,000 chickens from a nearby poultry farm. Yet again, the team concocts a hair-brained scheme involving hidden identities, complications, and danger. They must get past and outsmart a new team of gorilla guards leading to the near-demise of Piranha, who is hiding as a sardine in a guard's sandwich. Finally the cages are open, but the chickens are too scared of the "bad/good guys" to come out. The day is saved and the chickens are eventually freed, but at what price? The story ends with a deceivingly cute, yet evil, guinea pig who owns the poultry farm and seeks revenge, leading readers to the third installment: The Furball Strikes Back, released this past April.
This is a very clever new series sure to please readers. Originally published in Australia, Scholastic has released the series in the US with a new installment releasing stateside every few months. The fifth is set for December and the sixth will come out in March, 2018, catching American readers up with the Australian counterparts. Kids will not notice that these books came from a distant land. They are very relatable to American culture. The Bad Guys dress like Men in Black characters and use distinctive American street-slang. The adventures are hilarious and madcap, yet remain exciting and somewhat suspenseful. Reluctant readers, especially boys, will gobble-up these offerings. There are a few potty jokes, but not so many to cheapen the book. The comic illustrations are in black and white, are clearly and cleverly drawn, and add an extra layer to the plot. It is hard to know exactly where the book should be classified. It is completely told in a comic format with very little chunks of text, yet pages are not always split into panels and the book is broken into distinct chapters with headings. New readers not quite "feeling" text heavy books are the clear audience with the hope that they will move onto something more substantial. Wherever a librarian chooses to shelf it, this is a book that kids will certainly read and enjoy and it will not remain on the shelf for long.