All at once beautiful, garish and a bit prosaic.

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THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE

An iPad adaptation of Begin’s traditional book adapting Goethe’s classic poem.

Most kids will think more about Mickey Mouse than about Goethe when they hear the title. This rendering certainly isn’t as showy and sparkly as the Fantasia version. But it does feature a similar storyline, which of course involves a massive flood and an army of anthropomorphic brooms. The book’s illustrations have a classic medieval fairy-tale vibe, with the sorcerer looking like a cross between The Wizard of Oz’s Cowardly Lion and a blue-eyed, blond-haired Sunday School Jesus. The images are laser-sharp and colorfully—almost too much so—vibrant; despite animations, human figures are quite wooden. In a legacy of its print beginnings, pictures typically illustrate the text that was presented on the previous page. Certain words or phrases—indicated by a golden color—produce small, quick animations to enhance the story. The musical score is impressive; it’s unfortunate that neither the credits nor the developer’s website offer any information about it. Begin’s take on the narrative is solid but shallow. At one point, the sorcerer tells his young female apprentice that someday she’ll understand why, “The hard work of a Sorcerer is not the same as that of an apprentice.” By the end of the story, she’s enlightened, but readers are left in the dark about that particular plot point.

All at once beautiful, garish and a bit prosaic. (iPad storybook app. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Demibooks

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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