Even with some nicely executed animation and an impressive look, the story of the princess and the trapdoor is too slight a...

PRINCESS PETAL AND THE TRAPDOOR

A visually snazzy app about a bored princess is hamstrung by a weak story.

Princess Petal lives in an enormous castle with busy parents and "...one million toys / And one thousand games, / Dolls and pets, / And a small jet plane." But she's bored: She wants to explore the dark and dangerous place below the forbidden trapdoor. Of course, the scowling Princess Petal ends up below the castle, but what she finds there isn't particularly remarkable, scary or worth the trip. In addition to some squirming worms, a large monster readers never see and handy lights and electrical outlets, her chief discovery is a creature that looks like a mangy dog, which she befriends. It's all the more unsatisfying because the rest of the elements for a great app are in place. The sharp-edged art style, detailed and colorful, includes convincing backgrounds and witty design. And key words in the voluminous text are highlighted with specialized type. The word "ARMOUR," for instance, is in a steely typeface, while "ROAR!" is intensely ragged. Narration is animated and appropriately lilting for the story. But the ho-hum ending and lackluster middle ultimately make Princess Petal a lot less compelling than she should be.

Even with some nicely executed animation and an impressive look, the story of the princess and the trapdoor is too slight a narrative for its production work. (iPad storybook app. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Attic Sound & Music

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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