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THE PORTAL IN THE PARK by Cricket  Casey


by Cricket Casey & developed by Ninestars

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 2011
Publisher: Ninestars

A well-meant but pathetically inept paean to the virtues of emotional balance and physical exercise is boosted, though not very high, by seven songs from a pair of renowned Grammy winners.

Heavily abridged from previously published print and audiobook editions, the skeletal plot projects young bully Scott through a portal in New York’s Central Park. He falls into the clutches of monsters named Fearoid and Angroid until Sitara, the Queen of Self-Esteem and other members of the buff Cortex Rescue Team arrive. They deliver him to wise Relato, Master of Reality for a sermonette on responsibility interspersed with bland hip-hop lyrics. Reformed, Scott returns to the park and turns his friends into believers with mystic light from a little box. Appearing piecemeal on most but not all screens, the text can be read either silently or by a breathy narrator. There is also a self-record option but no other interactive feature aside from manual-advance arrows and a pale light that will follow a fingertip around each screen. The cartoon art is so perfunctory that Scott’s figure is repeatedly cut and pasted unchanged into multiple scenes. Along with the occasional misspelling and sentence fragment, the prose runs to stunning lines like “…her eyes pop open, staring at the most loathsome and weird-looking creatures with hairy limbs undulating and pulsating above the water’s surface.” The songs, all shoehorned into one of the seven chapters, are written and performed by Grandmaster Mele Mel with help on two cuts from Lady Gaga.

Star power may fuel sales, but Casey’s semiliterate prose conveys her message(s) with notable incoherence. (iPad storybook app. 8-12)