Shallow and flawed.

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MANDELA

An introduction to Mandela illustrated with cutesy, bigheaded cartoon figures.

Mandela’s career from childhood to retirement from the presidency of South Africa is covered in 10 spacious, tidily drawn scenes populated by gently swaying figures that smile, frown or occasionally wave an arm to show emotion. Touch-sensitive features on each screen are limited to a pop-up map (usually the same one, showing Johannesburg), toggle switches for the audio and a drop-down text that is optionally read (with some errors) in a wooden tone. On the opening menu, readers can choose English, French or Spanish—or opt to skip the story entirely to take a quiz, play three simple interactive games or visit a “portrait gallery” to meet 10 prominent South Africans. The language is so conciliatory that the 1976 mass killing at Soweto is presented as a case of police losing their “calm,” and South Africa today, as a country where blacks and whites are “definitively” united. Perhaps most distressing, in both the main narrative and the gallery Mandela is treated as still alive despite the app’s recent update.

Shallow and flawed. (iPad informational app. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Quelle Histoire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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The artist’s fans might key in, but most young readers will be left in the dark.

LITTLE.COM

When your computer powers down, the little “dot” is off-duty. You don’t think it just sits there, do you?

In this tipsy flight from Steadman, originally published overseas in 2000, the tidy dot on the first page is quickly transformed into mad splotches of black sporting googly eyes. It zooms through cyberspace to have tea—or, rather ink (“I LOVE INK!”)—with “my friend the Duchess of Amalfi,” and then goes off to spatter the besieging Duke of Bogshott and his white-uniformed army. Serving largely as an excuse for the illustrator to wield pen and brush ever more ferociously across a series of spreads, this free-associative plotline culminates with an invitation to attend the wedding of the duke and duchess as “Best Dot” (“I was so excited I made a mess on her carpet”) and a quick return home: “And here I am, ready to work for you again—dot dot dot.” As a clever riff on the internet, this doesn’t hold a pixel to Randi Zuckerberg and Joel Berger’s Dot. (2013) or Goodnight iPad by “Ann Droid” (2011), and the illustrator’s whacked-out mite isn’t going to take young readers on the sort of imagination-stretching artistic rides that Peter Reynolds’ The Dot (2003) or Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011) offer. But it does at least dispense exuberantly unrestrained permission to paint outside the lines.

The artist’s fans might key in, but most young readers will be left in the dark. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56792-520-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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