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

READ REVIEW

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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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