Fans of Calvin and Hobbes alert! Mal and Chad are on the scene. Mal is a genius whose plans don't always work out; Chad is his dog, who prefers to be treated like a human and sticks around even when the going is tough. The black and white art is fresh and enthusiastic and the lettering is large and readable, something I always look for in my juvenile graphic novels (seriously, a lot of kids won't pick up gns with small print, no matter how good the pictures look). What I loved about this story was how we started out with a perfectly normal scenario: geeky kid, talking pet dog, slight suspension of belief...and then they create a working rocket. Whoa! Complete shift in paradigm! We start realizing that sure Mal is a "normal" kid; he's obsessed with his crush on a girl at school, hates the know-it-all who is more popular and has more social skills...but he's also a genuine genius, whipping up time machines and shrink rays at the drop of a hat. Is he an alien? How does Chad talk? Do we care? Nope. We just want more fun, crazy, exciting adventures!
Verdict: This is going to be a very popular series, especially with fans of Calvin and Hobbes as well as some of the more thoughtful graphic novels for middle grades - Amelia Rules for example. Plus, it has giant dinosaurs! What's not to like? Buy it at once!
ISBN: 9780399252211; Published May 2011 by Philomel; ARC received from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011; Purchased for the library