Though not quite the equal of Loud Crow’s spectacular Beatrix Potter adaptations, this does give the tale a fresh...

THE ANIMATED TALE OF BENJAMIN BUNNY

Benjamin leads his sick cousin Peter into another traumatic outing to Mr. McGregor’s garden in this cozy if not quite streamlined digital rendition of the 1904 classic.

Designed to look like an early print edition, in landscape orientation, each screen shows two antiqued “pages,” with text placed on the left and on the right, an elaborately animated version of the original illustration. In portrait mode, only the enlarged illustrations are visible, and the effect is even more movielike; the figures have even been lip-synced with the narration. Within layered settings that move independently to create a 3-D impression, Benjamin, a wilted-looking Peter, the cat that traps the two interlopers under a basket for five hours and Benjamin’s pipe-smoking, switch-wielding father move from multiple joints like expertly manipulated marionettes. There are no sound effects, but a piano chimes in the background as an expressive narrator (optionally) reads, and there is a self-record option too. At four points, the story pauses distractingly to offer readers a jigsaw puzzle, and for all the sophisticated design within the art, the page turns are stiff and jerky.

Though not quite the equal of Loud Crow’s spectacular Beatrix Potter adaptations, this does give the tale a fresh reboot—respectful enough to retain the full text with its corporal punishment and smoking references. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The Wundershop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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