Though it doesn’t take full advantage of its medium, a playful introduction to a trio of core scientific theories.



This app focuses on the research of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) and James Hutton (1726-1797)—not exactly titans on par with Galileo and Newton but unquestionably critical Enlightenment figures.

The figures’ relative obscurity is actually an asset, as the storytelling focus gives the biographies an element of surprise and something for young readers to relate to: All three are depicted as precocious outsiders who persuaded the establishment of the value of their findings through hard work. For instance, Merian, a pioneer in the study of metamorphosis, is shown trying to communicate her research from girlhood through middle age, ultimately successfully. The cartoon artwork features a bright and pastel-heavy palette, with a simple swipe-up movement to page through the story. Users are encouraged to touch animated circles and word bubbles, though they’re only moderately engaging—a recited passage from Hutton’s research paper or a close-up of a bee’s face scrutinized through van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope. Additional informational pages for each scientist include a more thorough timeline, a fuller description of the era and scientific concepts, and brief bibliographies. It’s a pity the app is so relatively static, though: The lack of animation in the chapter on Hutton’s research into erosion and subterranean heat, for instance, seems like a missed opportunity.

Though it doesn’t take full advantage of its medium, a playful introduction to a trio of core scientific theories. (Requires iOS 6.1+) (iPad informational app. 7-11)

Pub Date: July 20, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: Scott Dubois

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.


From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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