Overall, this Little Critter app benefits from deeper interactive features as well as improved character and voice work over...

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LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

From the Little Critter series

The physical characteristics of Mayer's guinea pig–like Little Critter characters may not be evolving much, but the apps based on their books are. This 20-year-old take on the Grimm fairy tale is translated into a much richer experience than such previous iPad adaptations of his amusing storybooks as Just Grandma and Me, developed by Oceanhouse Media (2010).

While past Critter apps have been static experiences with extensive sound effects and a few passive games (trying to find hidden spiders in the illustrations, for instance), this one features more animation, smarter games (including word and picture matching) and some hilarious diversions in the story itself that aren't part of the original text. The artwork is typical—busy but filled with small jokes and witty touches—but enlivened here by sharp, expressive movement and some well-executed voice work. The Wolf, in particular, is a hiliariously hammy villain: "I believe my ears are in perfect proportion to my nose, don't you think?" he asks when questioned about his looks. "Yes, they are humongous!" Little Red Riding Hood chirps. A sidekick mouse who frequently warns about what's coming next isn't so entertaining, and page transitions are rough and erratic for such an otherwise polished production. Curiously, there's an ongoing coin-collecting game that rewards points for tapping on all items shown on the screen. It doesn't add much to the story and makes the app seem as if it's trying to be more game than story. It's not needed; the story would work fine without it, and the point tallying is distracting.

Overall, this Little Critter app benefits from deeper interactive features as well as improved character and voice work over earlier iterations. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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