This sci-fi adventure kicks off a relatively promising series.



Some kids on a camping trip venture too close to a fallen meteor and receive an overdose of gamma radiation that turns them into superheroes.

During the two families' camping trip, the kids witness a meteor crash into the ground near their campsite. When the girl and two boys touch the meteor, they fall unconscious and aren’t discovered until morning, when their respective fathers wake up and discover them missing. Intergalactic Affairs (IGA) soldiers respond to their distress call in a black stealth helicopter and transport the kids back to a secret laboratory in the mountains. When the kids revive after a few weeks, they seem to be unchanged—until they miraculously prevent a bus accident on a school field trip. The IGA appears, ready to recruit the kids for future adventures. The solid plot will appeal to both boys and girls, although the plodding text sorely needs editing for basic grammar and punctuation. There are some enticing interactive elements: Readers can "pack" camping items into a car and “drive” a car and a helicopter. The music, narration and text boxes can all be switched on or off, while the navigation is just page-forward or -back. The cartoon-style illustrations suit the superhero plot but are nothing special. The sound effects are well-done, but the voiced narration adds nothing to the story.

This sci-fi adventure kicks off a relatively promising series. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 17, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Adland Apps

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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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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