A celebration of untamed individualism that founders for a lack of musical swing and interactive immersion.

THE SWEET SONG OF THE WORLD

A lovely ode to sailing your ship to the poetry within you that nonetheless manages to subvert itself.

This is a simple app, one that doesn’t brook any fancy-pants interaction, but tells its story with spare visual imagery and text rendered in cursive, either with or without a fluty spoken narrative. The story follows Victor from birth to elementary school, as he engages with the world. Victor is blessed with a poetical heart that “uses words with parsimony,” one that finds its greatest expression in his love of birds and all they represent: song and flight, bright color and freedom. Of course, such a sensibility doesn’t find it easy in the artless, soulless precincts of school and the always-looming future of the workplace—where one learns to “take your revenge on the little freedom hidden between the lines or even between your toes.” Victor and his supportive parents heed the music in their heads and live to it, as visually realized through Allegue’s smoothly animated, lush, stained-glass artwork. The app provides its own curious counterpoints. The first is the music, a melancholy—“wistful” if you are being very generous—vulnerable bath of piano and wind instrument. The second is the curious absence of any typical app interaction with the screen. This would be an ideal venue for readers to pick and choose how to experience the story—to be their own readers, working their destiny—thus involving themselves with the tale’s leitmotif.

A celebration of untamed individualism that founders for a lack of musical swing and interactive immersion. (iPad storybook app. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: La Souris Qui Raconte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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