While the haphazard nature of its subjects ("Drums," "Jack-in-the-box," "Whistle") make it less useful than a guide to the...

X IS FOR X-RAY

More a showcase for the possibilities of iPad design than a primer on X-ray technology, this intriguing app is stuffed with lively activities and eye-catching visuals.

As in previous show-stopping iPad apps from TouchPress, March of the Dinosaurs (2011) and Solar System (2010), education and reference are excuses to display gorgeous images that can be rotated and played within a variety of ways. In this case, the 26 A-to-Z objects are items that were X-ray photographed by Turvey, who in his study of everyday objects in the 1990s showed the fascinating inner workings of motorcycles, a human hand, a teakettle and other objects. This app collects them, pairing each object with a page of text (typically a history, assorted facts or, in the case of "Nuts," a recipe for almond biscotti), a short set of couplets read by actor Kerry Shale and the X-ray view itself. This can be viewed by swiping downward on the object. A black top hat, for instance, reveals the ghostly image of a rabbit inside. The rhymes are lively (for "Engine": "In an engine gas explodes. / Pistons jump like tiny toads"), and the text write-ups are fascinating, if a little wordy.

While the haphazard nature of its subjects ("Drums," "Jack-in-the-box," "Whistle") make it less useful than a guide to the universe or a dinosaur encyclopedia, this is still an excellent plaything, built by artists who clearly know how to design with an eye for delight on the iPad. (iPad informational app. 4-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: TouchPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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OTIS

From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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