It’s a bit mannered, but high production values and a realistic mix of behavioral ups and downs keep it from turning twee or...

A DARK AND DISMAL FLOWER

In this pretty if occasionally precious app, a mercurial child’s moods and whims find allegorical counterparts in the flower garden she plants.

Being initially dismissive of the 16 seeds she is given, her first careless toss grows up Spoiled (Primula putris) with a “ring of slimy petals / that smelled of black bananas.” Soon, though, a lighter mood sows Cheerfulness (Helianthus hilaris), followed by positives from Hope (Asclepias spes) to Diligence (Viticula industria). Her progress is not without incidents of backsliding, like Tattle Tale (Proditio pusilla), with its “smell of rats,” and Fibs (Mendacium delicatum). Ultimately she plants Gratitude (Iris memoris), then gathers up all the seeds from “the cottage gardens of our hearts” to pass on to others. Herz and Scott’s measured free verse is cast into italics with decorated initials, and Stokes’ illustrations, which appear opposite, begin, mostly, with delicate seeds placed on elegantly plain backdrops. Tapping an icon under each page of narrative causes the seeds to open, grow twining stems and burst into recognizable but fancifully altered flowers as bees, butterflies and the tiny girl look on or drift playfully past. There is no audio track. The final lush garden scene, accessible from any screen, functions as an interactive index and also features instructions for sharing sample illustrations via email.

It’s a bit mannered, but high production values and a realistic mix of behavioral ups and downs keep it from turning twee or labored. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad poetry app. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Coliloquy, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

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DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

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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