Culturally and aesthetically leagues away from such American outings as Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland...

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THOMAS'S TRAVELS IN BOOKLAND

Arty, heavily worked pictures give this sketchy account of a child’s first visit to a public library a distinctively sophisticated look and tone.

Surrounded by tall piles of volumes that are blurred to anonymity, Thomas first brings a scarily feral wolf and a red-hooded woman with heavy eye makeup to life from a collection of fairy tales. He flees by choosing appropriate words from a dictionary and atlas and sails past “treasure” and a “mermaid” to other quick adventures. Though necessary to follow the storyline, the text (available in English or French) is a secondary element that appears on overlaid white strips and has to be manually summoned into view with the tap of an icon. Perhaps as a result of translation, it runs to wooden lines like “Thomas hastily picks up another book and gleans some more sea related words to help him navigate.” Richard mixes heavily processed photos, paint applied in broad daubs and swirls, and flat cartoon figures into grainy, visually complex compositions. Colors transform, floating letters form into words, and little robots or other figures drift past or pop into view. In addition to an optional audio narration, chuckles and other low-key sound effects join a short loop of pleasant orchestral background music. In the end, Thomas writes his way back into the library and departs with his miniskirted mom on a wink from the voluptuously tressed librarian.

Culturally and aesthetically leagues away from such American outings as Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland (2003), though it springs from the same root. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 14, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: La Souris Qui Raconte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

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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ZATHURA

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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