Readers and gamers alike will be underwhelmed.

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URKI, BEYOND THE FOREST

A small troll found in a basket goes in search of his parents in this rough-cut series opener.

In the story, little Urki negotiates a mountain, a maze and other obstacles with help from allies like sentient fuzzballs and fairies dispensing fairy dust. It’s related in a wordy English or, optionally, Spanish narrative that reads like a video game translated to prose—awkward prose at that: “Marlock’s sparkling eyes moved in the direction in which the little troll was pointing.” It even breaks suddenly between two chapters for a lengthy actual game. The monotonous (though optional) game features a hard-to-steer ball with which readers need to gather no fewer than 40 floating crystals while rolling through a maze. As far as in-story interaction is concerned, along with pulsing lights that don’t always move with the page turns, there’s a sparse assortment of animations; some design effects obscure sections of text. Furthermore, both the pages of story and the occasional full-screen cartoon illustrations jerk distractingly at the slightest touch. As an enticement to buy the sequel, the tale itself likewise jerks to an abrupt halt at an arbitrary point.

Readers and gamers alike will be underwhelmed. (iPad fantasy app. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: PixelMoon

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Man comics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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