The Bad Guys Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
The Bad Guys Series Book Poster Image
Snappy dialogue and irreverent humor in fun graphic novels.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

No academic content, but some life lessons about sticking together as friends even when it would be easier to walk away.

Positive Messages

The "Bad Guys" bicker among themselves but always stand by each other, and the missions they go on are all for good reasons.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mr. Wolf is kind and does things for others. But the others aren't that motivated; they just seem to go along with his ideas for repairing their reputation as bad guys.

Violence & Scariness
Language

Occasional use of phrases such as "this sucks" and lots of put-downs while they argue.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Aaron Blabey's Bad Guys series about misfit animals on a quest to prove they aren't as bad as their species' reputations is a quick, hilarious read, and a fun bunch of graphic novels. The stories don't offer much in the way of life lessons or modeling how friends should treat each other, but the dialogue between the shark, wolf, snake, and piranha is snappy, full of jokes and insults between friends, and a good amount of potty humor. In other words, young readers will likely enjoy these books, and parents won't mind reading these aloud, but will likely hope that some of the phrases aren't repeated (too often) at the dinner table.

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What's the story?

In the BAD GUYS series, Mr. Wolf and his friends Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark try to do good deeds so people will stop seeing them as "bad guys" just because that's their species' reputation. After freeing 200 dogs from a maximum security dog pound and 10,000 chickens from life in cages and certain death on a chicken farm, they try to save the homes of cute, furry animals from demolition, only to be tricked by an evil guinea pig, who unleashes an army of zombie kittens on them. There are adventures in space, a creature with too many butts who is eating the Bad Guys, and all sorts of other completely realistic adventures that somehow all involve Mr. Piranha's digestive issues.

Is it any good?

These funny, irreverent books will hold young readers' attention and make them giggle. Don't look for serious messages about life and morality here. Look for -- and find -- engaging, age-appropriate humor, great illustrations, and a reminder that reading is fun. As graphic novels, the Bad Guys series has the flexibility to engage with readers on many levels, and it succeeds with both hilarious, fast-paced conversations between the animals and images that jump off the page. The few drawbacks -- that the constant bickering between friends could be a bit much for the youngest readers, and the only female around is a curvy secret agent Mr. Wolf is smitten with -- are overshadowed by the sheer joy these books bring to readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the Bad Guys are on their adventures: Why would they care what their reputations are? Would you try to fix your species' reputation if you were them?

  • The Bad Guys fight a lot, but they always stick together. Do you have any friends that you seem to fight with a lot? Or are these friends more like siblings?

  • What other graphic novels have you read? What can they do that regular prose books can't? 

Book details

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For kids who love humor and animal tales

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