It's not a perfect story, and some will find the text ("The shadow at far is a giant / Bigger than the pines") too...

READ REVIEW

BEFORE GOODNIGHT

A child travels through a series of watercolor dreamscapes in a strikingly off-kilter stream-of-consciousness story.

Against a beautiful set of purple trees dwarfed by a great wall, a child begins a journey. It's unclear if it's a boy or girl; the child is always seen from behind, with straw-colored hair and black clothing. This land is populated by rabbits and birds but also “shadow hands,” and a gigantic border wall looms. If there's a story beyond the traditional hero's journey, it's not easy to find, as the app trades narrative for dream logic. Is the story a child's long, flowing dream or a metaphor? In a less visually arresting app, those questions would irk, but it's hard not to fall under the slow spell of this one, which sets a mood of both dread and wonder with gorgeous page transitions and memorable imagery, from bell lanterns to the detailed rainbow bricks of the giant, crumbling wall. The app is not easy to navigate. Readers may find themselves stabbing the screen in frustration until the page advances. But if that's a method to slow readers down and create a sense of entrapment, it works.

It's not a perfect story, and some will find the text ("The shadow at far is a giant / Bigger than the pines") too ephemeral, but the app sets a peculiar mood that is tough to shake.   (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harry's Collar

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

A NOVEL IN CARTOONS

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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