Pugs from Planet X

Random. (Max Meow: Bk. 3). Oct. 2021. 240p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780593121115.
Gr 2-5–Max Meow the Cat Crusader and Mindy the Science Kitten pursue an escalating threat in their third outing. A pug named Captain Quincy uses a UFO to terrorize the city of Kittyopolis into giving up a hidden space meatball (introduced in a previous book). Meanwhile, a separate collection of series villains, including a scheming mouse and an earnest robot, are also after the meatball. There are numerous pop culture references (Star Trek, Star Wars, The Matrix), and the narrator breaks the fourth wall to pose suspenseful questions at the end of each chapter. Science fiction machinery, musical numbers, and endless gags propel a ludicrously silly, meandering, and entertaining adventure. The stakes keep rising until some of the villains change sides and the antics spread to outer space. A prologue explains some of the previous adventures and cast, including Max, Mindy, and several villains. There are drawing guides for a couple of characters in the back. Max is a feline, while Mindy is a young Black girl.
VERDICT The real superpower in this book is Gallagher’s ability to weave such a twisty, outrageous story that never slows down.

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