Fix that, and the developers will have an app worthy of repeat visits.

GULLIVER IN LILLIPUT

Younger video gamers will feel right at home in this abridged rendition’s elaborately animated environment.

On seven multilayered tableaux designed to open and unfold as spreads of a digital pop-up book, Gulliver and the Lulliputians meet and bond (without the original classic’s urinating-on-the-fire scene, alas). After Gulliver drives off the invading “Blefuscuan” fleet [sic: Swift referred to them as “Blefuscudians”], they bid one another adieu. Rounded and moving like a jointed puppet to create a 3D effect, Gulliver towers over little figures and buildings rendered as 2D paper cutouts or pop-up assemblages. The audio can’t be switched off, but readers can choose an English or Spanish track, to see the text or not and also to have the tale presented in either manual mode or an only somewhat less interactive autoplay. Whatever the chosen options, each scene offers a mix of dramatic manual and automatic panning, zooming, swiveling and dissolves, along with question marks and swirls of stars that cue with a tap such “interesting events” as thrown ropes, sudden zooms, exclamations and even, on one spread, a guessing game. This rich array of inventive visual and sonic effects compensate for a narrative reduced to lines like “Lilliput citizens got surprised when they saw huge Gulliver” and spoken and print texts that don’t always match exactly. A far more serious flaw is the unfortunate resemblance the hunched-over, slant-eyed, bucktoothed Lilliputian soldiers bear to the worst kind of anti-Asian propaganda.

Fix that, and the developers will have an app worthy of repeat visits. (iPad storybook/game app. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 15, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Digital Aria

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Man comics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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