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ALICE & ANDY IN THE UNIVERSE OF WONDERS by Mariana Barrosa

ALICE & ANDY IN THE UNIVERSE OF WONDERS

The Planet Earth

By Mariana Barrosa (Author) , Lee Pullen (Author) , Andre Roquette (Illustrator) , Mafalda Martins (Illustrator) , The Science Office (Developer)

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 2011

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)