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THE BUTTON AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA by Henrik Van Ryzin Kirkus Star


From the Bartleby's Book of Buttons series, volume 2

by Henrik Van Ryzin & Denise Van Ryzin & developed by Monster Costume

Age Range: 4 - 10

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2011
Publisher: Octopus Kite

A continuation of the charmingly playful series about button-collecting, bowler-hat–wearing Bartleby, this volume is no less winning than the first even as it adds more locales and characters.

When last we left Bartleby, his brief trip to Mystery Island yielded treasure. This time out, an encounter with Bartleby's friend Sally (who's into switches the way he's into buttons) leads to an adventure on and under the sea, which reveals a long-lost family member and a cliffhanger ending that points to a third volume that will likely take place in space. As in the first book, the detailed animation (watch as Bartleby's bushy mustache flaps in the wind as he rides his moped), clever-but-not-too-difficult puzzles and retro-tech vibe are a great combination. Bartleby doesn't speak much, but he doesn't have to; he expresses himself in the way he solves puzzles, pursues clues and treasures his buttons. Hidden maps, deep-sea buttons, secret underwater caves and sleepy whales figure into a story that's packed with great imagery and texture. Volume two feels twice as long as the first book did, and it's satisfying, but the cliffhanger may be a problem for some faithful readers given how long it takes for a new app to be released; it's been nearly a year since we saw the previous adventure.

Lucky for the developers that Bartleby's books are worth the wait. This app series continues to delight; it feels innovative and well-told at the same time, a tricky balance. (iPad storybook/puzzle app. 4-10)