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ROM AND THE WHALE OF DREAMS

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

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. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What a wag.

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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 Mancomics 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: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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ADA TWIST AND THE PERILOUS PANTS

From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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