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Marko, Cyndi. Kung Pow Chicken: Let’s Get Cracking; written and illus. by Cyndi Marko. Scholastic, 2014. 72p (Branches) Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-545-61062-9 $15.99 Paper ed. ISBN 978-0-545-61061-2 $4.99 R Gr. 2-3.
Kung Pow Chicken: Bok! Bok! Boom!; written and illus. by Cyndi Marko. Scholastic, 2014. [72p] (Branches) Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-545-61064-3 $15.99 Paper ed. ISBN 978-0-545-61063-6 $4.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-3.

After accidentally taking a dip in toxic sludge at their uncle Quack’s laboratory, second-grader Gordon Blue and his little brother/sidekick Benny gain superhuman—er, superbird—abilities, becoming Kung Pow Chicken and Egg Drop. Let’s Get Cracking follows the novice superheroes as they search to discover why Granny Goosebumps is selling glowing cookies that, when eaten, cause the poultry population to shed their feathers in a dramatic “POOF!” Bok! Bok! Boom! sees our heroes trying to thwart evil Dr. Screech as he kidnaps opera star Miss Honey Comb, planning to use her voice to destroy the public library, as he has an aversion to quietude. The combination of chickens and kid superheroes is absurdly compelling; primary-graders will chortle over all the poultry puns, elementary-school humor (“Ack! Leotard wedgie!”), and Benny’s smart-aleck asides and frequent exclamation of “Ham and eggs!” Marko’s art is as playful as her text, and Gordon, in his square spectacles and striped tie, and Benny, who is still incompletely hatched and whose only visible features are his eyeballs (seen through a gap in his shell) and his protruding legs, are appropriately both comical and heroic in their depiction. There’s a graphic-novel flavor to the layout, with compositions ranging from double-page spreads to panel sequences (often set against a colored backdrop), while text blocks share duties with speech bubbles in telling the story. The simple vocabulary and small chunks of text make this extremely accessible to the primary-grade crowd, and kids who want something short and funny but are not quite ready for Pilkey’s Captain Underpants or Super Diaper Baby series will find this just their speed. [End Page 367]



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