A bland take on a premise that Mercer Mayer has practically worn out single-handedly.

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CHLOE'S LITTLE SECRET

Unexceptional writing and low-wattage interactive effects send this tale of a girl and her closet monster to a back shelf.

Chloe is drawn with huge, almond eyes and placed against pastel backgrounds. She explains to readers how she cuddles, cleans up after and cares for her spidery, rubber-limbed companion (anonymous, until he’s abruptly introduced near the end as “Floyd”) before anticlimactically revealing the “little secret” that he is her friend—a fact which she had previously mentioned anyway on the second screen. Toothy Floyd is appealing, with his little horns and big, googly eyes, and he makes a variety of amusing noises when he is tapped, from Donald Duck–like mutterings to gentle boinks. Unfortunately, he is not enough to sustain even this short app. The story, which is intermittently rhymed, is read by a slightly breathless narrator in both manual and autoplay modes. Selecting the latter freezes the skimpy assortment of animations and tap-activated sound effects. The app opens with an advertisement (readers may skip past it), closes on a screen that does not allow backward swiping, and features neither a thumbnail index nor a way to set a bookmark.

A bland take on a premise that Mercer Mayer has practically worn out single-handedly. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Marina Tito

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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