Still—a marvelous visual, if not tactile, experience.

THE NUMBERLYS

A fanciful take on the invention of the alphabet, more a video than a full-featured app but through the roof for production values.

The setting seems right out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and is depicted with the accomplished 3-D modeling and monochrome gray tones of Chris Van Allsburg’s pencil work. Goose-stepping hordes of small, peglike Numberlys stamp out lines of digits in a gargantuan factory amid huge shadows and gear wheels. One night, five vaguely dissatisfied workers stay behind and with mighty efforts hammer out an alphabet letter by letter that, when released the next morning, flies out into the world to introduce both words and color to the stunned masses. Readers can help them through a limited variety of touch-controlled trampoline, pinball and dexterity games. Aside from the games, there are no interactive elements in the visuals, but smoothly animated movements and scene changes aplenty keep the characters and plot tumbling along. Read, optionally, by a narrator with an exaggerated German accent, the sparse text appears on separate screens and runs to witty lines like “Now, what could the next letter…be?” Directional arrows at the bottom of each screen, plus a rotating main-menu index, allow rapid back-and-forth–ing. The art’s sophistication isn’t quite matched by the attention to technical detail, as toggling the melodramatic background music off also cuts out all of the nongame sound effects.

Still—a marvelous visual, if not tactile, experience. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: MoonBot Studios

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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