But along with a spindly plot, the high level of cartoon pseudo-violence and the generic African setting only cause this to...

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KING RA RA COWBOY

From the King Ra Ra series

In a frantic frolic lit up by bright colors and raw physical comedy, an African king’s eager-to-please subjects oblige when he decides to play “cowboy.”

Looking like an orange tribble attached to a pipe-stem body, King Ra Ra enthusiastically dons boots, Stetson and carrot “guns” to become “probably the first Cowboy ever, in Africa.” Following his sudden collision with a tree after an ill-fated attempt to lasso a buffalo, his chortling animal subjects—a pink elephant, a purple giraffe and others with similarly unlikely hues—don silly cow costumes to give him safer targets. This they come to regret after King Ra Ra consults the Cowboy Handbook and learns about “branding,” but after seeing him shoot a derisive insect and fall on his own hot branding iron, all gather around in a final scene to fill a cooling vat with milk from their udders. “Everyone was happy in the jungle!!” The general ridiculousness of all this is enhanced by many tap-activated wriggles, giggles and growls in the cartoon scenes, as well as a particularly animated (optional) narrator who frequently departs from the printed text to deliver warnings or exclamations in a broad Swahili accent.

But along with a spindly plot, the high level of cartoon pseudo-violence and the generic African setting only cause this to bite the dust. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Sandman Animation Studio

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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