Apart from automated sound this version doesn’t add much to its paper predecessor; let the diner beware.

COUNT BROCCULA

After being terrorized by fiendish vegetables, a young boy learns to eat his veggies before they eat him.

Young Albert hates vegetables and adamantly refuses to eat them. Doctor Gravenstein, a mad scientist who creates new beings out of vegetables and human brains, spots Albert and sends his pea henchmen to retrieve him so he can harvest his brain. Albert flees and is chased by various menacing vegetables, the most persistent of which is a vampire made of broccoli. The app is adapted from Osborn’s 2010 ink-and-paper release and appears to be identical in terms of text and graphics. Motion and interaction have been added to the colorful-but-crude illustrations, but these “enhancements” are about as primitive as they could be on a tablet screen. Audio, narration, music and sound effects all deserve above-average marks, but the rhyming text is predictable and bland. Navigation is more-or-less easy once the menu code is cracked, though if the tomato/book icon is tapped, it launches Safari to visit the developer’s website, which requires a re-launch of the app which then begins over again on page one. The opening screen promises broccoli recipes and gardening tips, but they’re nowhere to be found within the app itself.

Apart from automated sound this version doesn’t add much to its paper predecessor; let the diner beware. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: RipplBooks

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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