Set apart by outstanding visuals and a tongue-in-cheek tone, if lacking the psychodrama of more traditional variants.

HANSEL AND GRETEL ANIMATED STORYBOOK

Illustrations and animations done in a style strongly reminiscent of classic Disney feature-length cartoons boost this rendition of the tale over the zillions of other digital versions.

Read optionally by an avuncular storyteller character or from a text rolling piecemeal through narrow bands, the retelling largely relegates Gretel and her father to passive roles but substantially embroiders the otherwise familiar plot with dialogue and details. Many of the illustrations pan, change suddenly or are assembled in layers for a 3-D effect. Tapping a button on each screen or waiting for the narrator to finish releases an array of smoothly functioning animations and touch-activated effects. These include grimacing monsters and surly gnomes popping into view, the evil stepmother’s Cockney-accented screeches and fragmentary ditties like a skeletal minstrel’s “Dinnertime dinnertime for the witch, / She will eat the little boy, she’s suuuuch aaaa….” That fortuitously interrupted last line, plus some eerie moments in the dark woods, may be more appreciated by sophisticated audiences. On the other hand, neither the witch nor the stepmother is definitively killed off, and the title screen offers a “Play Around” option that dispenses with the storyline entirely in favor of going to any screen to check out the interactive features.

Set apart by outstanding visuals and a tongue-in-cheek tone, if lacking the psychodrama of more traditional variants. (iPad storybook app. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 19, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Epic Tales

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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