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

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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012


The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005



A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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