What happens when four villains want to change their ways and try to do some good deeds? Well, depending upon the individuals, it can turn out to be a great success or a misunderstood failure. That’s what happens when four notorious bad animals try something good for a change in Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys, a hilarious new illustrated chapter book series.

When Mr. Wolf decides to change his ways, he invites his other villainous friends to join him. However, when these individuals are Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark, you know things may not go as planned. But ever the optimist, Mr. Wolf convinces his colleagues to change their ways and become good guys. In the first book, simply titled The Bad Guys, readers are introduced to the four reformed villains by Mr. Wolf and witness their attempt to save a cat from a tree and free canines from the dog pound.

Their adventures continue in Mission Unpluckable when their newest member, Legs the tarantula, assists them in releasing chickens from their deplorable chicken farm. These all may sound well and good, but when you have a snake who loves to eat everything and everyone, a shark who is terrified of spiders, a wolf who is a little too excited by his new life, and a piranha who is constantly mistaken for a sardine, things can get a bit chaotic but hilarious.

Aaron Blabey has written and illustrated a great comedic series with zany characters in crazy situations for children and their parents to enjoy. Using simple black and white drawings, Blabey is able to create visually funny, and occasionally exaggerated, expressions for each of his characters. The characters themselves may be a bit on the bumbling side, but children will get a kick out of their hilarious behavior and nature. Adults will recognize the Reservoir Dogs and Mission Impossible parodies with this new gang, while children will come to recognize the stereotypical behaviors and expectations of each character.

What is very unique and appealing about this new series is the format. As an illustrated chapter book, it is a combination of a fiction book and a graphic novel, bringing together bold lettering, speech bubbles, and action packed panels, along with simple text and narrative that never falters. With this format, the humorous anecdotes and actions of the characters are brought to light, creating hilarious scenes that both children and adults will enjoy.

Give this new series to any die hard Captain Underpants fan and they will keep asking for more. The graphic novel style will appeal to comic book fans, while the simple text and plot is perfect for reluctant readers in elementary school. The Bad Guys is sure to be a popular series and a must have for any children’s collection.

The Bad Guys, vol 1
ISBN: 9780545912402
The Bad Guys, vol 2: in Mission Unpluckable
ISBN: 9780545912419
by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 7-10

  • Gloria

    | She/Her Children's Librarian, Elmont Memorial Library

    Gloria is a full-time children’s librarian at the Elmont Memorial Library in Long Island, New York where she runs a monthly STEAM program, a graphic novel book club, and storytime for preschoolers. During her free time, she is found reading anything and everything from the classics, to poetry, to the newest best seller. Her other interests include writing, online games, exploring new areas in her home state, and spending time with friends, family, and colleagues. She has also written articles and reviews for the website Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries and on her personal Goodreads page.

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