A worthy foray through the grim years of World War I—un-overwhelming in a good way.



This app takes a stab at introducing youngsters to the abomination of World War I.

There is no getting around World War I as a seriously grisly affair. There was trench warfare (there is an archival photograph here of the no man’s land between trenches that’s just breathtaking, and there isn’t even anything dead in the image, except one of those creepy old tanks), mustard gas, going over the top (as that suicidal dash across no man’s land was known) and that great gift to close combat, the flamethrower. A cartoon figure guides users along the timeline of this app (the narration is voiced by an earnest British child, lightening the atmosphere a touch), pointing out salient moments such as the battles of the Somme, Ypres, Verdun (one year long and nearly a million casualties), as well as the surreal soccer game played between rival combatants one Christmas day and the odd fact that messenger pigeons were parachuted to the troops on the front line. The presentation of written information feels scattershot, with up to six text boxes crowding the page with fact snippets. There are a couple of fine maps that convey a sense of how Europe has evolved geopolitically over the years, a good selection of artwork to temper the horror and also enough raw data to make readers pause. Millions dead, over 20 million casualties and a result that blossomed into Nazism—what a colossal black mark in history.

A worthy foray through the grim years of World War I—un-overwhelming in a good way. (iPad informational app. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2014


Page Count: -

Publisher: Abécédaire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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