Rich in plot—and the inspiration for a popular opera by Rimsky-Korsakov—but with the look and language of an...

TSAR SALTAN

Interactive features seem thrown in as afterthoughts, but ornately detailed new illustrations in a pre–Soviet-era style give this edition of a classic Russian short story some visual interest.

The folkloric tale sets a scheming mother and her two daughters against a third daughter, married to an often-absent Tsar, and her son, Prince Guidon—who meets and marries an enchanted princess after being transformed into stinging insects and partially blinding his evil aunts. The public-domain translation is framed in antique-sounding couplets—“Then the guests, with solemn air, / Led the newly wedded pair / To their iv’ry couch, snow-white, / Where they left them for the night.” Against the text, figures in finely patterned court attire pose formally in scenes through which floating feathers, bouncing balls of yarn and other touch- and tilt-sensitive items drift. There is no audio narration, but readers can opt to record their own. The Prince switches dramatically into a mosquito and back with a tap, but the princess’ transformation from a swan is only described, and the various touch-activated arm movements or sprays of glitter and stars elsewhere add little if anything to the story. Sound effects and orchestral background music are almost inaudible, and, iTunes description notwithstanding, the text is viewable in English only.

Rich in plot—and the inspiration for a popular opera by Rimsky-Korsakov—but with the look and language of an early-20th-century period piece. (iPad storybook app. 10-12, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Articul Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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