High production values brighten this feature-rich offspring of one of Heaney’s last works and a BBC miniseries.

SEAMUS HEANEY: FIVE FABLES

Fifteenth-century versions of five fables get lavish makeovers in this star- and feature-studded app.

Three of the tales are usually ascribed to Aesop; the two others, which feature a clever fox and a foolish wolf, are drawn from other sources. Henryson considerably expanded his episodes’ pithy progenitors: “The Lion and the Mouse,” for instance, here runs to 36 verses of seven lines each plus seven more verses of “Moralitas,” opening with an introductory dream in which the writer begs a reluctant Aesop for “…’ane prettie fabill / Concludand with ane gude moralitie.” Menu options at the bottom of each screen allow readers to view the tales in the author’s original thick but penetrable Middle Scots verse or in Heaney’s modern translation, as well as side by side or in 12- to 14-minute animated renditions with ebullient readings (Heaney’s by actor Billy Connolly) of either alternative. A slide-in sidebar offers scholarly glosses, and in additional video clips, Heaney, Connolly and others deliver introductory synopses and background commentary. Though this collection is not specifically aimed at younger audiences, occasional lyrical or poignant passages—and even flashes of wit—lighten the sententious moralizing. Furthermore, at least in the animated versions, the violence (songbirds trapped and killed in “The Preaching of the Swallow,” the wolf beaten bloody in “The Fox, The Wolf and the Carter”) is either not shown or toned down.

High production values brighten this feature-rich offspring of one of Heaney’s last works and a BBC miniseries. (Requires iOS 7.0 and above.) (introduction, bibliography) (iPad folklore app. 10-13, adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: TouchPress

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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