A bland digital alternative to Phillis Gershator and Holly C. Kim’s Iroko-Man (1994) that, in its own mild but firm way,...

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OLURONBI

A rhythmic Swahili song, a gender switch and a grafted-on happy ending sweeten this version of a West African tale about a childless woman who makes a rash promise to a tree spirit.

Being “young, married and barren,” Oluronbi travels to the Iroko tree to ask for a child. Being proud and also either greedy or pigheaded (this is never made clear), instead of begging, she rudely demands a beautiful daughter—and instead of the traditional offering of goods, she promises said daughter to the tree after five years. Of course she reneges on that promise, but when the tree’s spirit (female here, male in other versions) seizes the child, so great is her remorse that the spirit gives it back and mother and daughter live happily ever after. The illustrations are cleanly drawn but rather staid, depicting Nigerian figures in brightly patterned dress and village settings. They are brightened up both by a chorus that sings a song to the Iroko Spirit in one scene but can be heard in the background throughout and by a particularly lively, accented narrator. Options include autoplay, suppressed text (though that also hides the occasional pop-up window containing cultural side notes), and access to both the menu and a thumbnail page index available from any screen. Three tile games are tacked on at the end. There are no in-app purchases, though sending feedback requires registration.

A bland digital alternative to Phillis Gershator and Holly C. Kim’s Iroko-Man (1994) that, in its own mild but firm way, makes points about respecting nature and keeping promises. (iPad folktale. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Genii Games

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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