“Awww”s for the cute kitten: “ugh”s for the slow and frustrating app.

NICKELBY SWIFT, KITTEN CATASTROPHE

A riff on the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” offers readers an eccentric inventor, a kitten and a handful of pallid interactive features.

Not only does “helpful” Nickelby make a nuisance of himself in Dr. Kafruganegel’s lab, he wrecks the whole house by losing control of the multi-armed “Clean-O-Matic” robot when the doctor steps out to run errands. Behind a Home screen button confusingly labeled “My Library,” children can opt for either a pleasant British-accented narration or any of several self-recorded ones. Even when the audio is turned off, however, the text scrolls slowly in and out of view on successive pages, blending into the bright cartoon backgrounds except for one or two highlighted lines at a time. Likewise taking far too long to load after each page turn, the scanty assortment of touch-activated effects range from muttered comments and subdued sounds to isolated items and figures that glow or can be coaxed to move. The animation is stiff, and Vimislik’s figures—particularly the Doctor, whose expression seldom varies from wide-eyed and open-mouthed dismay—are equally wooden. The narration is too often out of sync with the highlighted text, and the app’s audio track sometimes continues to run even after the tablet is locked.

“Awww”s for the cute kitten: “ugh”s for the slow and frustrating app. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: VivaBook

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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