Meager monkey business.

READ REVIEW

MONKEYS IN MY HEAD

Engaging artwork, superb narration and one extra-sparkly page fail to keep this disjointed story about self-esteem afloat.

Using monkeys as metaphors for negative thoughts, Lim tells the story of a little girl who decides to capture the primates in an effort to silence them. Apes with names like Gobbledeegoo and Frankenpoop relentlessly torment the girl by telling her that she’s not good enough, that no one likes her and that things are all her fault. One by one she lures them into a glass cage, but in the end she decides to befriend them and set them free. Objects’ pulsations (according to the instructions, they are meant to look like they are glowing) supposedly reveal interactive elements, but sometimes things that move or produce sound don’t pulse or glow. Animation is mostly slow, bumpy and unremarkable, with the exception of one visually stimulating page that the developers apparently put most of their effort into. At times the story and the illustrations are incongruent; on one page the girl says there are mice inside her head—presumably a reference to the shrunken monkeys—but because this is not made explicit, young readers will likely be left wondering where the mice factor in. The subject matter is relevant and potentially powerful, but this incoherent story doesn’t even come close to plumbing its depths.

Meager monkey business. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 7, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: PaperPlaneCo

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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