Books by Gina Roche


So intensely illustrated that it may be a miss for younger readers, the first book in a series about "Bella the Great," the daughter of the authors, a pair of New York actors, is certainly dramatic. As she cowers in bed with her stuffed rabbit, Bella imagines adventuring among "Creepies and Crawlies that make your toes curl" and "Three-headed Snivelers that scream out in plural … / Scarier even than scary Aunt Pearl." But she also finds good witches, unicorns and jazz-playing ghosts. Ashley's ornate, whimsically imagined drawings evoke the stylings of Tony DiTerlizzi in his retro moments and wouldn't be out of place on the covers of fantasy or science-fiction novels. They give Bella's dreams a great deal of visual heft, but Bella is such a sturdy soul, dressed in a happy hodgepodge of skirt, leggings and red sneakers (and with her belly button often visible), older preschoolers won't fear for her. The unobtrusive navigation—a "Back to Menu" icon on the bottom right and a page indicator at the bottom—stays out of the way, and there is no poke or tilt interactivity. As you'd expect from a family of actors, the English-language narration is top-notch. The app also has German narration and text, as well as five coloring pages in a menu item outside the main story. By the end, Bella has made friends with cuddly creatures and beasties alike. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)Read full book review >