A bland retelling, well stocked with pedagogical features.

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CINDERELLA

A sweet version of the tale, with Disney-style cartoon illustrations and a carriage full of literacy-building tools.

With help from her matronly “godmother, who was a fairy,” Cinderella meets and weds the Prince, forgiving her stepsisters Drizella and Anastasia (her stepmother vanishes after an early cameo) and going on to live at court “happily, with the Prince and their many children.” The text and an optional audio narration that comes with both highlighted words and auto-advance can be switched between French and English on any page. A swinging cord visible on every page (even the credits) pulls down a menu of further options—pronouncing individual words at a touch, displaying for selected words either a brief definition or a small image, even highlighting all the vowels. The illustrations are not touch sensitive, but they move or transform smoothly. In fact, touching the screen isn’t a good idea, as it seems to derail the app, causing all sound to cease until the “play” button is tapped; multiple touches create a sort of pantomime as the characters continue to move silently, cause the menu bar to flicker, set off a page turn and sometimes disassociate the text from the art.

A bland retelling, well stocked with pedagogical features. (iPad storybook/educational app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Chocolapps

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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