Apprentice work at best, definitely not ready for prime time.

READ REVIEW

ALICE & ANDY IN THE UNIVERSE OF WONDERS

THE PLANET EARTH

Amateur production design and underwhelming interactive features only underscore the unusual superficiality of this planetary once-over.

The text and narration can be set at any time to any of five languages plus British or American English, but the good news ends there. Read at a deliberate pace by a narrator who cannot be switched off, the wordy tale endows two 7-year-old twins with a magic globe. It takes them down to the Earth’s core (which Andy somehow spots through solid rock even before they arrive) and up into orbit, where Alice points out features that are not visible on the planet below. In response to a wish to see “different animals,” it deposits them near a camel in an unspecified desert and then in the ocean, where an anglerfish somehow shares its deep-sea habitat with coral, algae and a whale (all of which are also unseen in the illustration). They then travel to a snowy scene into which a polar bear and an Inuit lad slide slowly and rigidly after a few moments. A final wish gathers three children “from all around the world” in casual western dress, plus the Inuit in furs, to share a birthday cake. Consonant with the monotonous background music, wooden writing, scientific misinformation and disconnects between text and pictures, finger taps will make labels appear, and some figures can be induced to move a few inches or blink almost invisibly.

Apprentice work at best, definitely not ready for prime time. (iPad informational app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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