Beguiling (particularly for bedtimes), seamlessly designed and unusually feature-rich.

ROM AND THE WHALE OF DREAMS

A tale of dreams lost and found, well-served by soft-voiced narration, gentle music and surreal illustrations in muted hues.

Young Rom’s visions of a whale with lion’s paws and butterfly wings are the first nighttime dreams for 1,000 years in the “gypsy” kingdom of Numia. His belief that the creature is real takes him on a quest that leads to a series of strange encounters—with, among others, winged elephants and people made of water and fire. At last Rom is able to return the whale, which has been trapped in his dream, to a kingdom sleepless and desperate since its disappearance. In return, the whale teaches his own folk how to dream again. The otherworldly atmosphere is artfully reinforced by tap-activated animations. These include lines of text that fade in and out of sight, drifting leaves, slow changes of expression or position, a picture that can be washed in pale colors with a fingertip, spotlight effects, and visual elements or entire illustrations that appear and vanish with repeated touches. Readers can not only opt for English, Spanish or Chinese versions of the tale and narration, but also a running translation into any of those languages at the bottom. Furthermore, on every screen an icon opens a trilingual list of relevant words or phrases that are voiced with a touch.

Beguiling (particularly for bedtimes), seamlessly designed and unusually feature-rich. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: BelMontis Publishers Pte. Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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