THE LITTLE MERMAID

Andersen's classic text is paired to Zwerger’s elegant, subdued illustrations and animated with graceful restraint. At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much going on. A page of text appears, with a fish bobbing as if in a slight current at the bottom of the page. It looks as though it has been submerged, light shining through moving water between the iPad surface and the text. When readers advance to the next page, the fish swims across into an illustration as the narration continues. The background sounds are the ceaseless rushing of the ocean depths. Children who touch the screen to find an animation will discover that they can make ripples and splashing sounds while guiding a school of minnows about. This is exactly the right choice for this story. Many pages have several paragraphs (read aloud in a gentle, woman's voice), and the interaction engages readers tactilely, helping them to focus. As the action moves to the ocean’s surface, the undersea gurgling is replaced by the wash of ripples, the soughing of the wind and creaking of ships. This being the original story, there is no happy ending: The little mermaid becomes a "daughter of the air," hoping to eventually win an immortal soul. Children accustomed to Disney blandness will find this quiet, subtle app a welcome introduction to a more sophisticated aesthetic. (iPad storybook app. 6-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Auryn

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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LIBRARY LION

Knudsen and Hawkes pick a perfect setting to express the idea that breaking rules can sometimes be a good thing. When a lion wanders into a small town public library the Head Librarian, Miss Merriweather, brushes off the protestations of her realistically officious colleague Mr. McBee and allows it to stay—so long as it keeps quiet, doesn’t run and makes itself useful cleaning books and licking envelopes while waiting for storytime to begin. Anxious-looking patrons of all ages quickly become accepting ones in Hawkes’s soft toned watercolors, and if Miss Merriweather’s hair and dress seem a bit stereotypical, occasional CRT monitors balance glimpses of rubber date stamps and a card catalog in his gracious, old style interiors. When Miss Merriweather takes a fall, the lion roars to attract help, then slinks out in shame—but McBee redeems himself by bustling out into the rain to inform the offender that Exceptions to the Rules are sometimes allowed. Consider this a less prescriptive alternative to Eric A. Kimmel’s I Took My Frog to the Library (1990), illustrated by Blanche Sims—and it doesn’t hurt that the maned visitor is as huge and friendly looking as the one in James Daugherty’s classic Andy and the Lion. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2262-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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