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


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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Epic Tales

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Dizzyingly silly.


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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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.


When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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