Pretty, but target-audience readers expecting much in the way of plot or character development get the shaft.

READ REVIEW

BRAVE: STORYBOOK DELUXE

Prosaic writing and herky-jerky visual transitions mar the “story” part of this movie storybook, but the tale’s only a platform for a generous array of puzzles and other distractions anyway.

Backed by plaintive Hibernian music, a thickly accented narrator sketchily recaps the struggle between warlike young princess Merida and her prim royal mother, from the archery contest with prospective suitors and the spell that temporarily turns the queen into a bear (just in time for a climactic battle with a similarly cursed ursine) to the closing reconciliation. The text is nothing but pedestrian: “The next morning, Merida showed her mother how to catch fish in a stream. For the first time in a while, they had fun together.” The text panels slide in and out of view as scenes created in the film’s lushly detailed, 3-D style pan, zoom or shift angles. Only rarely do these changes occur smoothly enough to emulate video convincingly, however, and taps rarely activate more action than a small gesture or low-volume background sounds. The app offers options for self-recording and a frustratingly ponderous autoplay—along with, more temptingly, a multilevel shooting game, six coloring pages and six jigsaw puzzles accessible through scattered links or a “Play” icon on the title screen.

Pretty, but target-audience readers expecting much in the way of plot or character development get the shaft. (iPad movie storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Review Posted Online: July 18, 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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