It's a strikingly beautiful and strange package; though wordy, it's still a worthwhile trip. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)



Visually arresting aliens and planetary vistas make this app worth a visit, but plodding text and uninspired narration make the trip less awe-inspiring that it could have been.

A planet-hopping spaceman offers readers a ride across the galaxy to see the "big gaseous planet Jeffrey," the oceanic 4CC420 and several other wondrous worlds. Judicious use of animation brings the many aliens to wiggling, active life. Slithery green creatures with seven eyes on stalks frolic alongside mops of fur with tiny antlers. The design of the aliens and their home planets—even familiar ones like Mars and Jupiter's moon Europa—are so imaginative readers could easily skip the tiny text that runs (and runs and runs) on each page. The text is not poorly written and contains interesting details and insights ("Perhaps even terrestrial life was born outside planet Earth. Some believe it was born in the water on comets"), but it's very lengthy, essentially a tedious information dump. The stale, matter-of-fact narration doesn't help. It may be that all that text is meant to keep readers lingering longer on each page for the clever, exquisite visuals. Extras include some lovely jigsaw puzzles and a serviceable coloring interface, as well as the option of experiencing the alien ride in the publisher's native Italian. 

It's a strikingly beautiful and strange package; though wordy, it's still a worthwhile trip. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)

Pub Date: June 15, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: WARE'S ME

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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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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