It’s a pleasant-enough story, but it’s not quite effective as a way to draw young readers into a museum experience



Two animal friends explore the recently renovated grand Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Digging a tunnel, Mole accidentally discovers a beautiful building and brings his friend Monkey to explore the treasures inside. A chase ensues when a guard spots them and angrily shouts, “The museum is closed. And animals aren’t allowed in here!” As the two friends flee, they bump into an ornate 17th-century Delft vase, are helped by the little angel statue called Amor and otherwise encounter more precious works of art. Options include audio narration in English, Dutch, French and German, a choice of visible or invisible text, and automatic or manual page turns. Interactive features are minimal but suitable for young children. This storybook app works better as a charming story than an introduction to the recently renovated Rijksmuseum, though. While the colophon at the end provides young readers with information about each of the famous works of art, the emphasis is on the animal friends’ adventure. Spee’s illustrations capture the essence of the artwork but are impressions rather than realistic renditions, unlike Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day, by Amy de la Haye, illustrated by Emily Sutton and developed by MAPP Editions (2012), which captures readers’ interest with striking photographs of the artwork in the backmatter.

It’s a pleasant-enough story, but it’s not quite effective as a way to draw young readers into a museum experience . (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 12, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: The House of Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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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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