If you are looking for a story that will get your young reader interested in books, then consider The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey. This is a series of books written similar to graphic novels and full of jokes, nicknames, and elementary humor. A group of scary villains, Wolf, Snake, Shark, and Piranha set out to prove that they are actually good guys. Throughout the series, the group trade friendly insults with each other, battle a super villain, learn that everyone has their own talents, and even go to space.
My 7-year old son and I have read these books and he giggles and laughs most of the way through; I am either chuckling myself or rolling my eyes at the boy-centered humor. (parents reading this prepare for fart jokes and stupid nicknames) Each book is about 130 pages of graphics and dialogue that an elementary reader can easily follow along. Since each book has a separate mission, I’ll briefly review books 1 through 5 individually.
Book 1 – The Bad Guys – Mr. Wolf feels that characters like him are seen as scary and dangerous, and he is on a mission to change that perception. He invites his buddies to join his new club, The Good Guys Club, so that they can create a better image of themselves. Mr. Snake, aka Chicken Swallower, is sarcastic and no nonsense. Mr. Piranha, aka Butt Biter, is toothy and Bolivian. Mr. Shark, aka Jaws, is always hungry for meat, large, and great at disguises. They cruise around looking for someone to rescue and come across a kitty in a tree. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at their well-meaning and ridiculous rescue efforts. Their next mission is to set a pound full of 200 dogs free. Their rescue mission is poorly planned but highly entertaining. Seriously, a wolf, a shark, a snake and a piranha rescuing dogs – what could go wrong? Their mission ends up solidifying their bond as The Good Guys as well as my son’s curiosity to see what happens next!
Book 2 – Mission Unpluckable – The Good Guys think that freeing the dogs from incarceration will get people to see them as good guys, but the news coverage paints them as bad guys! The team is feeling like no one will ever see them as the good guys they want to be seen as, so Mr. Wolf has to inspire his crew to try again. This time their target is Sunnyside Chicken Farm. Freeing 10, 000 chickens in cages from a maximum-security farm with steel walls and lots of guards will not be easy, especially when one of them is dreaming of chicken dinners! They are going to need some help on this one. Enter Legs, a computer hacking tarantula who is unhappy with his monster image. Legs has a plan to disable the alarms at the chicken farm, but one of them must plug a USB into one of the computers. Each of the crew must use their talents to make break into the farm, install the USB, and rescue those chickens. The hilarious dialogue will keep you reading and laughing wile Mr. Shark must get over his fear of spiders and Mr. Snake tries not to eat any of the chickens! At the end of the book, we meet our next villain – an evil guinea pig who owned Sunnyside.
Book 3 – The Furball Strikes Back – The club has grown to 5 members now and they are on their way to stop bulldozers from destroying a forest. Little do they know that it’s a trap set by the evil guinea pig, Dr. Marmalade. Mr. Piranha needed to be let out of Mr. Wolf’s car first because of an upset tummy, but it ends up saving him. As they get out of the car, it explodes, seemingly with Legs still inside. Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are captured, and they realize how dangerous Dr. Marmalade is. He doesn’t want to be seen as cute and cuddly, so he devised a plan to make all cute and cuddly creatures scary and dangerous. Now it’s up to Legs and Piranha to rescue them, and they need to do it fast! While Legs and Piranha are rescuing the rest of the crew, they encounter a ninja. Is the ninja working for Marmalade or is the ninja helping them? It’s Agent Fox from the International League of Heroes there to stop Dr. Marmalade. Mr. Wolf is immediately lovestruck and starts acting funny. Even though the gang has been rescued, Dr. Marmalade escapes and has started his secret weapon to end cute and cuddly forever. What could mean?
Book 4 – Attack of the Zittens – The book opens with a new report of Dr. Marmalade setting an army of zombie kittens, Zittens, who seem adorable but will eat you! Zittens do not like water, can be distracted with balls of yarn, are not infectious, and many have little bells on their collars. The Good Guys find themselves surrounded by a lot of Zittens, but Agent Fox is there to rescue them again. They take a Zitten with them to Granny Gumbo, an aging alligator who can create an antidote. In order to keep an eye on Dr. Marmalade and get to Granny Gumbo quickly, the gang splits up. Shark and Piranha, disguised as a dolphin and goldfish, head to Costa Rica where Dr. Marmalade is hiding out. They get to the island just as Marmalade takes off in a rocket. Where is he going? Agent Fox takes Wolf, Snake, Legs and the Zitten to Granny Gumbo. The dialogue is quick and hilarious as tempers start to fly. Thankfully, Granny Gumbo soaks balls of yarn in the antidote and turns their Zitten back into a cute kitten. So, they load up her large truck with antidote-soaked yarn and start turning Zittens back into kittens. However, Marmalade hasn’t just turned kittens. He has turned EVERY cute creature into a dangerous zombie! If he left in a rocket ship and has a laser that can hit the entire planet, then he must be somewhere in space!
Book 5 – Intergalactic Gas – It seems like the end of the world. Everything has been overrun with zombie kittens, zombie puppies, zombie dolphins, zombie bunnies, etc. The Good Guys think Marmalade is on the Moon and try to convince authorities, but no one believes them. So, they need to steal a rocket and get to the Moon and stop Marmalade themselves. Once they get their rocket, Agent Fox decides to stay on Earth to fight off the zombies while the Good Guys head to the Moon. They realize this is their opportunity to show the world that they are heroes, not villains. As they approach the moon, they see the laser, but not before it attacks them. Once again, Marmalade captures part of the gang. Wolf and Piranha had gotten out in a space suit, which Piranha is filling with stinky gas. The two of them must think quick and stay calm because there is a limited amount of oxygen in their spacesuit. Will Shark, Legs, and Snake must watch Wolf and Piranha run out of air? In an all-or-nothing attempt to blow up the laser, Wolf devises a plan that puts Piranha’s gas to work. Once they destroy the laser, they broadcast a message to Earth that lets everyone see how good the Good Guys are. But where did Marmalade go? Is the guinea pig just a guinea pig? How will the Good guys get back to Earth without their rocket? I cannot wait to find out in Book 6!