Carlton Crumple Creature Catcher: Catch the Munchies!

Pixel+Ink. (Carlton Crumple Creature Catcher: Bk. 1). Aug. 2020. 128p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781645950011.
Gr 3-5–Devious Milt convinces his younger brother Carlton Crumple that the world is full of monsters. But Carlton resolves not to live his life in fear and instead becomes a Creature Catcher. Meanwhile, a group of monstrous “Munchies” awaken from hibernation at the bottom of a lake and, eager for sustenance, emerge and begin terrorizing fast food restaurants. They soon encounter Carlton Crumple, who pursues them across the United States. The illustrations are reminiscent of those in “Captain Underpants” and “Nate the Great,” with exaggerated facial features and actions. The plot is silly and convoluted, with commercial breaks to keep things from getting “too exciting.” On many pages there is a lack of cohesion between the text and illustrations. Some illustrations that require no explanation are accompanied by wordy text boxes, while on other pages, kids will need to read the text to understand the art. Text bubbles are occasionally placed on the page in a confusing order and require a high level of comics reading literacy to understand the timing and pacing of the conversation. The jokes feel out of touch; much of the story focuses on people mistaking the titular Munchies for “hairy hippies” as they race across the country in their “Groove Mobile,” and Carlton shouts repeatedly that he has to “CATCH THE MUNCHIES!”
VERDICT Lengthy text and dated humor undermine the book’s potential. Not recommended.

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