High production values and a story-centered design give this a leg up over flashier, more game-like e-books.




Potter’s tale of a hapless frog who sets out to catch a minnow for dinner and almost ends up being dinner himself gets several useful extras in this unabridged app. It also receives a design upgrade that increases the original’s cramped trim size and eliminates its blank pages while pairing text and pictures more closely together.

There are three reading options: silent; read aloud in a pleasantly measured and low-key way by a female narrator with a British accent; and, through an online connection, a mode that allows an absent parent or other reader to be the voice and to turn the pages remotely. This last option even includes a button that enables two-way conversations. The illustrations are sharply detailed, clear of hue and expandable with a touch to full-screen size. There is little animation (a dragonfly here, a water bug there), but touching some figures produces an audio tag. A coloring book and connect-the-dots activity complement the story. A retractable navigation bar at the bottom provides thumbnail images of each page of the tale for easy skipping around, plus a button to open the table of contents. The remote Buddy mode requires a relatively involved prior setup, but it should prove a boon to families with absent parents.

High production values and a story-centered design give this a leg up over flashier, more game-like e-books. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Sideways Software

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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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