An abecedary with an international cast of creatures who go bump in the night.
From Nepal comes the abominable snowman and from Norway, the ettin (a “foul-smelling two-headed giant” in a perpetual bad mood). From Iceland comes the kraken, and from Arabia comes the roc. There are 26 in all, fittingly, one for each letter in the alphabet. The beasts each get a full screen on which to cavort, and frequently there’s an additional screen for some added action. The screens come with varying amounts of engagement—cued by a pulsing light—but there is always enough to keep interest strong. The creatures are drawn with originality and enough comic flair to make this app more of a scream than a terror. The artwork is also fresh as paint, and the animation is smooth. Certainly one of the highlights is the activation of a toolbar that lets users dig a little deeper behind the beasts for background information, such as traditional characteristics, body composition, what they do for mischievous fun and where, if you are lucky and patient enough, you will find them. The verse is uniformly on the light side: “A Vampire known as Dr. Voss / Politely taught me how to floss.”
Eminently amusing, it also offers not a little bit of history for the taking.
(iPad alphabet/informational app. 4-8)
A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)
A color-themed vision of what school should be like.
In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)
The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.
(Picture book. 6-8)