Challenging reading for younger audiences, at least in its more academic passages, but dazzling visuals and ingenious...

SKULLS BY SIMON WINCHESTER

Science meets art, and outstanding page and software design put this meaty survey of vertebrate frontage on the top shelf.

Winchester contributes 12 essays of diverse tone and topic, from a technical description of a skull’s component parts to a short history of skulls in art, a scornful blast at phrenology and a bemused portrait of renowned skull collector Alan Dudley. They are solid enough, but the stars of the show are the illustrations. Hundreds of animal headpieces, drawn largely from Dudley’s huge collection and photographed with startling clarity, float on all-black backgrounds and can be viewed either in tandem with the accompanying narrative or individually full screen. Each skull will turn (even spin) with a touch to reveal every side, and for viewers able either to cross their eyes or lay hands on a stereoscope there are two 3-D options as well. The images can all also be seen in a separate interactive gallery, in which users can select specimens to place side by side, download detailed identifications of each skull’s original owner and (for many) listen to a recorded comment from Dudley. Further bells and whistles include an internal search function, a choice of black text on white in portrait mode or the reverse in landscape mode and also a complete, sonorous audio reading by the author.

Challenging reading for younger audiences, at least in its more academic passages, but dazzling visuals and ingenious digital enhancements (not to mention the topic itself) more than compensate. (iPad informational app. 12-18, adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: TouchPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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THE TIGER RISING

Themes of freedom and responsibility twine between the lines of this short but heavy novel from the author of Because of Winn-Dixie (2000). Three months after his mother's death, Rob and his father are living in a small-town Florida motel, each nursing sharp, private pain. On the same day Rob has two astonishing encounters: first, he stumbles upon a caged tiger in the woods behind the motel; then he meets Sistine, a new classmate responding to her parents' breakup with ready fists and a big chip on her shoulder. About to burst with his secret, Rob confides in Sistine, who instantly declares that the tiger must be freed. As Rob quickly develops a yen for Sistine's company that gives her plenty of emotional leverage, and the keys to the cage almost literally drop into his hands, credible plotting plainly takes a back seat to character delineation here. And both struggle for visibility beneath a wagonload of symbol and metaphor: the real tiger (and the inevitable recitation of Blake's poem); the cage; Rob's dream of Sistine riding away on the beast's back; a mysterious skin condition on Rob's legs that develops after his mother's death; a series of wooden figurines that he whittles; a larger-than-life African-American housekeeper at the motel who dispenses wisdom with nearly every utterance; and the climax itself, which is signaled from the start. It's all so freighted with layers of significance that, like Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue (2000), Anne Mazer's Oxboy (1995), or, further back, Julia Cunningham's Dorp Dead (1965), it becomes more an exercise in analysis than a living, breathing story. Still, the tiger, "burning bright" with magnificent, feral presence, does make an arresting central image. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0911-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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