One of many tales featuring an overabundance of latkes, but properly festive (in the end, at least) and with digital...

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TOO MANY LATKES

The first night of Hanukkah turns out to be anything but restful for a poor family, thanks to an overenthusiastic magic potato.

The single spud that a little man hands Dad as he’s coming home from the pencil factory doesn’t seem like much to the four Smalls. “Maybe next time he could also spare an onion,” says Mom. But the one latke she makes turns into five in the pan—and later that night, the single leftover reproduces so exuberantly that the house fills up, pushing the two children out the window and stranding them high atop a teetering tower of taters. The neighbors and Emergency Services personnel are helpless, until the little man reappears to suggest that everyone should just chow down. Along with simple cartoon illustrations that pulse or toggle between two scenes with a tap and the occasional tilt-activated animation, the app offers a self-record option to go with the silent mode or a warm audio narration. Icons lead to four easy side games, from a spinnable dreidel to candles and a menorah with the blessings presented both in English and also spoken or sung Hebrew.

One of many tales featuring an overabundance of latkes, but properly festive (in the end, at least) and with digital enhancements that give this edition a leg up over the forgettable print version (2011). (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Behrman House Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2011

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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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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