The multilayered illustrations cleverly capture a child imaginatively transforming herself, but it’s impossible to read this...

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SHOE ZOO

From the Tales by Torchlight series

An artistically inventive tale, rendered clunky and frustrating by interactive features of, at best, amateur quality.

Following an introductory frame story, Evangelina, a young artist who spins nighttime tales for her toys, describes how she and her mother pay a visit to a real zoo after old boots and other clothing inspires her to fancy herself as various animals. The zoo animals are photographed; the imagined ones are childlike drawings superimposed over more finished paintings of Evangelina’s face or other images. Selected screens have single, simple touch-activated changes of color or figure position, primitively signaled by printed instructions in the margin that locate the one area that will respond to a tap. Like a paper flip book, these changes are accomplished with short sequences of nearly identical separate images which, though they shift invisibly the first time through, must be manually scrolled back one screen at a time to replay the effect or, for that matter, even to page ahead. The story downloads into iBooks, and tapping any figure that is not touch-sensitive invariably activates the reader’s menu bar, highlighting and search functions—all of which, except for the “index” icon, are irrelevant distractions.

The multilayered illustrations cleverly capture a child imaginatively transforming herself, but it’s impossible to read this through without annoying stops and interruptions, and readers accustomed to the flexibility and razzmatazz of the better apps will be disappointed. (iPad enhanced e-book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 26, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Jellywalk

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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